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Addressing Hearing Loss in Elders

July 07, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 224

More than 26 percent of Americans over age 50 suffer from measureble hearing impairment, and this figure rises to almost 50% of the population 74 years of age and older.But only about one in seven of 50+ year olds are regularly using hearing aids.If it were only what is said around them that these hearing-impaired individuals miss, it might be one of those health statistics we all just brush off as of little consequence.But hearing loss is also associated with incident dementia, falls and poorer cognitive functioning.

Other research also shows that older adults with poor hearing are at greater risk for auto accidents, especially if there are other auditory distractions in the car with the driver, such as passengers talking or the radio.And people who have difficulty hearing those around them tend to withdraw and with this withdrawal can also come isolation or even depression.

It is not clear if hearing aid use is resisted because it is simply under-diagnosed or if it is because of cosmetic or vanity reasons, but it likely owes to a range of reasons.There is a stigma associated with hearing aids that one does not find with eyeglasses.Showing up for a job interview wearing glasses, for instance, will attract no unwanted attention.Showing up with hearing aids, however, can raise eyebrows and encourage potential ageism.And hearing aids which typically price out at $3,000 to $6,000 may simply be beyond the financial reach of some who could benefit from them.Regardless, the proportion of individuals who do not use a hearing aid when one is indicated is fairly consistent at six out of every seven for every age cohort above age 50.

So, what can you do to help if you suspect an older adult in your orbit may have some hearing impairment?One of the cues to be alert to is whether the adult misses the higher frequency tones.These typically would be the consonants in conversation, so be attentive to a pattern of not grasping certain words in which consonants figure prominently.The higher frequencies also include sirens or some household smoke or other alarms.Or the hearing loss may only be apparent when there is a din of background noise such as at a dinner party, airport departure lounge or busy street.

Medicare does not presently cover the cost of hearing aids, but you can look to other resources for help.Check the web site for the Hearing Loss Association of America.They also have some state affiliates which can help you find helpful, local resources.Also ask your own primary care provider for a referral to a reputable audiology or hearing assessment center.Beyond hearing aids, also look for alarms or smoke detectors that are adapted to those with hearing issues as a safety effort in case of the individual whom you are trying to help insists on staying in the six of seven who will not use a hearing aid.

We are the professionals who help families who are caring for older adults (geriatric care management) or others with special needs in Illinois. Our professional geriatric care managers and special needs case managers can be your eyes and ears when you simply cannot. Find services and web sites which can help you as a caregiver to an older adult or someone with special needs on our Resources page: http://www.creativecasemanagement.com/resources.aspx. Get helpful advice and support from Charlotte Bishop on her blog page: http://www.creativecasemanagement.com/blog.aspx.

Source: EzineArticles
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