It’s not uncommon nowadays to see people walking around with something in their ears – earbuds. But for years, there has been a stigma around another kind of “ear device” – the hearing aid.
Many of us associate hearing loss with aging, and let’s be honest, no one wants to get old, but hearing loss is a reality most of us will face at some point.
“If you live long enough, you’ll have hearing loss,” says Brian Unwin, M.D., chief of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Carilion Clinic. “It’s just a consequence of aging and is normal.”
In fact, hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older or elderly adults. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 1 in 3 people in the U.S. between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing loss.
There are many causes of age-related hearing loss, but most commonly it develops from changes in the inner ear as we age. Certain medical conditions can also play a role. No matter what the cause, the important thing is to not ignore any changes in your hearing.
“The longer a person waits, the harder it is to adapt to hearing amplification,” said Dr. Unwin. “This is why so many people have issues with hearing aids once they get them. Often times, they waited too long.”
Many older adults have been concerned about the cosmetic look of hearing aids, but thankfully technology has progressed and now many options are small and almost undetectable. If you recognize yourself having difficulty hearing or a loved one doesn’t seem to be 100 perfect, get tested.
“Protect yourself early on,” said Dr. Unwin. “Early adopters will thrive. The longer you wait to address hearing loss the more you or a loved one will suffer.”
Many people who experience hearing loss can become isolated or begin to experiencing memory loss. Start discussing hearing loss with your loved ones now to prevent any long-term effects later.