Approximately 1 in 3 people between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing.
But, some people may not want to admit they have trouble hearing.
Studies have shown that older adults with hearing loss have a greater risk of developing dementia than older adults with normal hearing.
Cognitive abilities (including memory and concentration) decline faster in older adults with hearing loss than in older adults with normal hearing. Treating hearing problems may be important for cognitive health.
Signs of Hearing Loss
Some people have a hearing problem and don’t realize it. You should see your doctor if you:
• Have trouble hearing over the telephone
• Find it hard to follow conversations when two or more people are talking
• Often ask people to repeat what they are saying
• Need to turn up the TV volume so loud that others complain
• Have a problem hearing because of background noise
• Think that others seem to mumble
• Can’t understand when women and children speak to you
How to Cope with Hearing Loss
If you notice signs of hearing loss, talk to your doctor. If you have trouble hearing, you should:
• Let people know you have a hearing problem.
• Ask people to face you and to speak more slowly and clearly. Also, ask them to speak louder without shouting.
• Pay attention to what is being said and to facial expressions or gestures.
• Let the person talking know if you do not understand what he or she said.
• Ask the person speaking to reword a sentence and try again.
• Find a good location to listen. Place yourself between the speaker and sources of noise and look for quieter places to talk.
• The most important thing you can do if you think you have a hearing problem is to seek professional advice. Your family doctor may be able to diagnose and treat your hearing problem. Or, your doctor may refer you to other experts, like an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor) or an audiologist (health professional who can identify and measure hearing loss).
How to Talk with Someone with Hearing Loss
Here are some tips you can use when talking with someone who has a hearing problem:
• In a group, include people with hearing loss in the conversation.
• Find a quiet place to talk to help reduce background noise, especially in restaurants and at social gatherings.
• Stand in good lighting and use facial expressions or gestures to give clues.
• Face the person and speak clearly. Maintain eye contact.
• Speak a little more loudly than normal, but don’t shout. Try to speak slowly, but naturally.
• Speak at a reasonable speed.
• Do not hide your mouth, eat, or chew gum while speaking.
• Repeat yourself if necessary, using different words.
• Try to make sure only one person talks at a time.
• Be patient. Stay positive and relaxed.
• Ask how you can help.
Source: National Institute on Aging