In India, most of the population is “graying”, as the mortality and fertility rates are on decline. Of India’s population, 76.6 million (7.2%) are aged above 60 years. According to World Health Organization (WHO), India’s aged population is the second largest in the world. Hearing impairment is the second major functional impairments, among older adults.
A person can experience a number of changes in the body while ageing. Almost 1 in 2 adults over the age of 65 experience some degree of hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss is also known as presbycusis, this condition is not life threatening but can have a significant effect on the quality of life, cognition and mood of a person if left untreated. Hearing loss is also associated with falls in older adults.
- Changes in the inner structure of the ear.
- Blood flow to the ear.
- Impairment in the nerves
- Changes in the perception of brain to speech and sound.
- Damage to the internal ear.
- Poor circulation
- Exposure to loud noises.
- Sounds seeming over loud
- Difficulty in hearing in areas that are noisy
- Ringing in ears
- Watching TV with loud audios
- Being unable to hear over telephone.
If the symptoms appear in the older adults related to hearing loss, one must visit a doctor for diagnosis. A full examination will be performed in order to rule out hearing loss. Further, if the diagnosis is not clear, the doctor will refer you to a hearing specialist, an audiologist.
Treatment depends on underlying condition. The most common cause of hearing loss in older adults is usually sensory neural hearing loss . There is no definite cure for this but following measures are really beneficial:
- Hearing aids to help in hearing better
- Assistive devices, such as amplifiers can be used
- Sign language, or lip reading, in case of excessive hearing loss.
Age-related hearing loss is a progressive condition, which means that it gets worse with time. Hearing loss can be a permanent situation. Use of assistive devices such as hearing aids can improve the quality of life. Talk with your doctor about the condition and treatment line.
One may not be able to prevent age-related hearing loss, but can take essential steps to reduce the chances of hearing loss.
- Avoid repetitive exposure to loud noises
- Ear protection can be used in places with loud noises
- Control diabetes.