Everything To Know About Hearing Aids For The Elderly
As one ages, it is inevitable that their body does not work as well as it used to. Part of this ageing process tends to involve hearing loss in one or both ears. In fact, most people with hearing loss are seniors, and it is common to find the elderly around you wearing hearing aids. On average, hearing loss in the elderly (also known as presbycusis) usually occurs around the age of 65, although this can always happen earlier or later in life depending on one’s lifestyle and genetics.
How hearing ability changes over time
What Contributes to Hearing Loss in Elderly?
Hearing loss in elderly happens gradually, caused by the degeneration of the structure of the ear and its tiny hair cells over time. This hinders the transmission of sound waves from the ear to the brain, and the ability of the ear to pick up sounds. While this deterioration of the ear is a natural part of ageing, there are certain factors that can contribute to it and exacerbate hearing loss.
3 per cent of Singaporeans with disabling hearing loss use hearing aids.
1. Genetics And Family History
Age-related hearing loss is often hereditary. If many of your elderly family members have experienced age-related hearing impairment, you may have increased chances of encountering it yourself.
2. Prolonged Exposure To Loud Noises
Those who are repeatedly exposed to loud noises for long periods of time (more than 80 dB, over 8 hours per day) are at higher risk of hearing loss in their elderly years. This can either be in the form of one’s work environment (for example, industrial manufacturing or construction) or lifestyle (live concerts and nightlife). The prolonged, accumulated noise exposure over the course of many years damages the ears more rapidly, resulting in early onset hearing loss.
3. Health Conditions
Certain illnesses and ailments can indirectly lead to hearing loss in the elderly. For example, with high blood pressure, the blood vessels all over the body, including the ears, experience a degree of damage. This results in structural damage of the ear. Diabetes can cause the same sort of ear degeneration.
Smokers are also said to be more likely to experience hearing loss in their elderly years, due to nicotine-induced cellular damage.
Some medications and drugs can also lead to age-related hearing loss, usually those that are used to treat serious illnesses such as strong infections and cancer. While these medicines work to fight diseases, they also cause overall damage to the body’s cells, which may result in indirect structural deterioration of the inner ear and in turn leading to hearing loss. In some cases, hearing loss can be reversed once the consumption of the medication stops, but effects can also be permanent.
Health effects of Hearing Loss
Recognizing Symptoms Of Age-Related Hearing Loss
Learn to detect these hearing loss symptoms in yourself or your elderly family members, and you will be able to treat the issue in its early stages.
- Difficulty in making out others’ words, continuously asking them to repeat themselves
- Certain consonants become harder to hear
- Many sounds start becoming unbearable
- Having to set the television at a higher volume than in the past
- Trouble distinguishing high-pitched noises, with men’s voices easier to hear than women’s
- Hearing constant ringing sounds that others cannot (tinnitus)
- Being told that you are speaking extra loudly
- Noticing that your family members have to raise their voices when talking to you
Preventing Age-Related Hearing Loss
1. Early Detection
Detecting any health issue early always makes prevention and treatment easier. The earlier hearing loss is detected in the elderly, the faster they can get fitted for a hearing aid. This is why it is important to go for routine hearing tests in your golden years even if you may not think you have hearing loss yet. While a hearing aid cannot reverse age-related hearing loss, it can help delay further deterioration of hearing.
2. Protection Against Loud Noises
Avoiding environments with overly loud noises will help preserve the health of your ears and prevent hearing loss in old age. If this is unavoidable, try using ear plugs to block out noises. When listening to music, do so at safe levels, especially when using in-ear earphones which can rupture your eardrums if you are not careful.
Note that these noise protection measures should not just be done in one’s elderly years, but rather, throughout their life, as hearing loss happens gradually over time.
3. Exercise To Maintain Good Overall Health
Exercising doesn’t just maintain your physique – it also plays a part in preventing hearing loss in the elderly. Keeping in good health helps prevent overall deterioration of one’s body, including smaller organs like the ears and their cochlea.
4. Upkeep Personal Hygiene To Prevent Infection
Ear infections can damage the inner ear, so keep your ears clean with regular cleaning. Avoid inserting tools like cotton buds and ear cleaning sticks too far into your ear, lest you burst your eardrum. The best thing to do would be to visit a medical professional occasionally for safe earwax removal.
If an ear infection occurs, see a doctor immediately so that it will not get too serious to the point of affecting your hearing.
5. Open-Mindedness And Acceptance
Finally, if many of your family and friends insinuate that you are hard of hearing and suggest going for a checkup, it pays to remain open-minded. It is common to initially resist and be in denial about age-related hearing loss, but acceptance is the first step to treatment. Acknowledge that the problem exists, and immediately take the steps to treat it for better hearing and happiness.
The Hearing Centre – One-Stop Solution For Elderly’s Hearing Aids
The Hearing Centre is a hearing specialist in Singapore that walks you through every stage of getting a hearing aid – from assessment to fittings and aftercare. Our 7 centers in Singapore welcome patrons of all ages and we are experienced in attending to elderly patients. With diagnosis and hearing tests performed by a skilled team of audiologists, we will guide you through what using a hearing aid entail and customize a device that suits your individual needs.
- Receiver-in-canal (RIC) or behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids
- Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for convenience
- Charging case options for power on the go
- Answer phone calls using Tap control for those who have difficulty pressing small buttons
- Roger Direct compatible for better speech understanding in noise
- For elderly with mild to profound hearing loss
- Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids
- Rechargeable, up to 61 hours of battery life
- Easy to handle for those with dexterity issues
- Automatic environmental adjustments
- Compatible with a remote control and a phone app for adjustment
- Rechargeable batteries with up to 30 hours of battery life
- Portable charger that is easy to carry anywhere
- Remote fine tuning for those who could not leave their homes
- Has a GPS feature to locate the hearing aids using the app
- The only hearing aids with fall detection and alerts
- Automatic environmental adjustments
- Brain and body health tracker
- Has rechargeable option for both in-the-ear (ITE) and behind-the-ear (BTE) type
The Hearing Centre Reviews
“After using a hearing aid, life became [easier]. I was able to hear when somebody talked softly.”
– Ms Meena.
“We are very glad that we were introduced to The Hearing Centre by my mother’s ENT doctor from Mount E Hospital in the year 2004. Till date, my mother has made 3 hearing devices with them, and each time, Mr Ernest Poh and his colleagues attend to my mother with care, explaining to her carefully which devices are suitable for her. We are very glad that Mr Poh is very understanding and accommodating towards my mother’s requests, especially now that she has dementia at the age of 87. The services provided by The Hearing Centre went way beyond the purchase of the hearing devices.”
– June, daughter of Mdm See.