When you lose your hearing and everything changes 3



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Have you heard of presbyacusis? You might not know what the official term means, but the majority of the population does actually know about this health issue.

Presbyacusis is the medical term for normal age-related decline in hearing as people grow older. Otherwise known as age-related hearing loss (ARHL), this condition is known to affect up to approximately 40 per cent of Australians over 65.

Hearing loss tends to develop over 50 years of age at approximately 1 decibel (dB) per year however cardiovascular issues and diabetes may accelerate these changes. Both ears are usually equally affected, with men often suffering worse deterioration than women.

Why does it happen?

All of your senses tend to decline with age, with the main affects being felt on your hearing, vision, balance, smell, and taste.

This process is probably a wear and tear phenomenon, it also may be genetic. While the exact changes in your body are not completely understood, it is believed that your hearing may worsen due to the loss of hair cells and stiffening of membranes in the cochlea (inner ear).

What are the impacts?

It’s not only isolating and frustrating to the person suffering from the hearing loss, but to their friends and family.

You may struggle in social situations, at work, or using the phone, which can be stressful and incredibly isolating for some people. Feeling left out of conversations, or becoming increasingly frustrated because you can’t hear every day sounds is a common complaint from those with a hearing problem.

It can make being independent very difficult, as you rely on your partner or other family members to repeat information to you in social situations, or even just to help you go to the supermarket or speak with people on the phone.

One of the little known impacts of hearing loss is that it can impact on mental health.

New research shows that untreated hearing loss has a profound effect on mental state, affecting everything from temperament to perceived life satisfaction to cognition.

Sadly, the average delay for seeking treatment is seven to 10 years, leading to an unnecessarily poor quality of life for millions of people.

Hearing loss can lead to:

  • Depression – people with hearing loss are 50 per cent more likely to experience depression.
  • Cognitive decline – it’s a significant problem that has been linked to untreated hearing loss in recent studies as well.
  • Social isolation – many seniors become frustrated with their efforts to hear and understand, especially in noisy environments. As a result they avoid activities, people and places they once enjoyed.
  • Anger – some people can become angry or annoyed at their hearing loss and how people won’t repeat themselves or speak louder.

What can be done about it?

If you think you may have hearing loss, it’s very important you make an appointment with your GP, who can then recommend an audiologist.

Once diagnosed, treatment options are many. You may require a hearing aid or implantable hearing solution such as a cochlear implant and the pricing is surprisingly reasonable.

In most cases, a hearing aid and captioning of television shows and movies would be a sufficient form of treatment for age-related hearing loss.

You don’t have to suffer in silence.

Do you have hearing loss? How has it affected your life?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I became deaf in my left ear, didn’t realise until I answered the phone and placed the receiver to my left ear and only heard a tiny voice, I thought the phone had gone wrong and told the person I’d phone them back from the phone in my study which has a hands-free speaker. This happened twice until I cottoned on it was my left ear that wasn’t working. Went to the doctor’s, she saw it was chokker block, silly woman went and used a cotton bud to try and get the wax out, only pushed it down further and my hearing completely gone in that ear. Then had to use a dropper with a wax solvent for two days then an ear shower apparatus, no success, again two days of drops, then the ear shower, no sucess, gave up self-treatment decided to go to an ear-clearing professional, it was the Easter holidays, no reply and then, blow me, the next time I washed my hair and accidently sprayed water in my ear, afterwards, I got this irritation, put in my little finger and scraped out loads of wax. Now i hear just as well as before and use the telephone receiver to test my hearing every so often. My companion had made enquiries at the chemist and was told i must try and get the wax out with cotton buds, only makes the situation worse. As proved by the doctor.

  2. Correction re. Chemist left out the ‘not’i.e I must not try and get the wax out with cotton buds.

  3. I must stop being so hasty to post comments but re-read first!
    The correction should read:
    re. Chemist’s instructions. I left out the ‘not’ in the sentence:
    ‘I must not try and get the wax out with cotton buds’.

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