How Hearing Loss Affects a Senior's Quality of Life

Ear Check-up

According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, chronic hearing impairment becomes common as one gets older. As we get older our hearing usually becomes less sensitive because some of the special cells in our inner ear no longer respond to sounds. In addition to aging, hearing loss can also be caused by noise, disease, and heredity.

Approximately one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 has difficulty hearing. Many seniors are experiencing hearing loss today and, unfortunately, research shows that hearing loss is often under-recognized and inadequately addressed.

As a result, hearing loss is now a major public health issue for senior adults and its consequences go well beyond simply losing the ability to hear.


Ways Hearing Loss Can Diminish Seniors’ Lifestyle and Quality of Life

Says Stacey Houseknecht, NHA, CTRS, administrator at Saunders House in Wynnewood, PA, “Sadly, hearing loss among our nations seniors can have a dramatically negative impact on their everyday lives.”

According to a Today's Geriatric Medicine article,The Far-Reaching Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss, older adults’ loss of hearing negatively affects the social, physical, and cognitive aspects of their daily routines.

Experts explain that even mild untreated hearing loss can have adverse effects on an individual's social, psychological, cognitive, and overall health. In fact, research studies have linked untreated hearing loss to a litany of undesirable effects on seniors’ quality of life including:

  • Irritability, negative attitudes and anger
  • Fatigue, tension, stress, and depression
  • Avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
  • Social rejection and loneliness
  • Reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
  • Increased number of falls and accidents
  • Impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
  • Diminished psychological and overall health
  • Potential decrease in cognitive skills
  • Reduced short-term memory
  • Higher incidence of dementia


Why Seniors Often Decline to Seek Help

Geriatric medicine specialists say that because most age-related hearing loss cannot be corrected medically or surgically, the primary method for treating hearing loss in seniors is the use of hearing aids. Yet, despite the negative consequences of untreated hearing loss, only 20% of people with hearing loss have taken advantage of hearing aids.

There are many reasons why seniors decline to seek help for their hearing loss. The primary reasons include denial, vanity, perceived stigma, and cost. There is also the perception that hearing aids cause people to seem weak or old.


What Seniors Can Do to Reduce the Effects of Hearing Loss

Geriatric medicine specialists strongly recommend that all individuals over the age of 60 should have their hearing checked annually by a physician. If hearing loss is suspected, a board-certified audiologist should be used to conduct a comprehensive audiology evaluation. The audiologist works in concert with an individual's physician to determine the most effective way to treat the hearing loss. By following these guidelines, seniors can receive the hearing care and treatment they need.

The good news for seniors is that hearing aids today are sophisticated digital, programmable and cosmetically appealing devices that have been shown to improve hearing even in noisy environments. And studies indicate that the vast majority of those wearing hearing aids report positive results. For example, a recent survey commissioned by the National Council on Aging showed that hearing aid use had a positive effect on quality of life for both the hearing aid wearer and his or her relatives and friends.

Stacey adds, “So if you or a loved one is beginning to have difficulty hearing, see the doctor to determine the cause. Identifying and correcting the problem early can eliminate the many negative effects that hearing loss can have on your lifestyle and quality of life.”


We encourage you to call us with any general questions you might have and to stay current on a variety of senior health and caregiver topics by viewing the latest articles on our website.


We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, How Hearing Loss Affects a Senior's Quality of Life, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.


Discover Our Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

Located adjacent to Lankenau Medical Center, Saunders House – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has a celebrated tradition of providing exceptional care and services to seniors and their families. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue.

Today, Saunders House offers a range of services – including short-term rehabilitationtraditional nursing care, restorative carememory carerespite care and specialized care for individuals with visual impairments – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing.

For more information on Saunders House, our Short-Term Rehabilitation program and other professional services, please call us today at 610.658.5100 or contact us online.

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Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Saunders House and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.

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