October 1st was International Day of Older Persons and National Seniors Day, and Connect Hearing Canada is hoping senior citizens from coast to coast will take this opportunity to make their hearing health a priority.
It can be easier said than done. Senior citizens have proven time and again that while they are good at being there for others, they aren't always as good at being there for themselves. Many seniors suffer hearing health issues in silence – and this can affect not only the person involved, but their entire family and circle of friends.
As people age the risks associated with hearing loss multiply. Diabetes, dementia, high blood pressure, long term effects of occupational noise and decreased physical activity are common among seniors.
That's the bad news. The good news is by taking action and getting a hearing test at a Connect Hearing Canada clinic seniors can take charge of their health, understand the current state of their hearing, address any problems that may exist and enjoy an enhanced quality of life. For these reasons, it's important that people view hearing health with the same degree of seriousness as other issues. Here are ten ways that treating hearing loss can make a difference in the life of a senior citizen.
Hearing loss isn't something that people can see, like a broken leg or a black eye. Hearing loss can also creep up on people over a long period of time, so many people may not even be aware there is an issue unless a loved one says something.
As you will see there are many good reasons for treating hearing loss, but one of the most important is education. The more you know about hearing loss the greater your chances are to correct the problem. This is true whether you are dealing with a problem yourself or if it's someone you care about.
“In my experience, people either don't know because they don't know or they don't know because they don't want to know,” says Jon Waterhouse, Director of Professional Practice for Connect Hearing Canada. “I have met people who had no idea they had a hearing problem and came into our clinic on the advice of loved ones. I've met people who came in terrified that the exam would reveal something horrible, like brain cancer. I've had people who spent years avoiding their hearing issues because they were afraid it would cost $10,000 to deal with the problem. In the end, most people who come in for a hearing test ended up saying things like this blew away my expectations, I had no idea there were was a simple solution to this problem, I had no idea what I was missing, I wish I had come in for a hearing test years ago.”
2. Improve your sex life
In a recent Connect Hearing Canada article that quoted the Journal of Laryngology & Otology and authored by Turkish researchers at Dicle University Medical College, deafness may lead to sexual dysfunction. The study showed a correlation in the lack of hearing and the lack of ability to function sexually.
The report produced by the Cambridge University Press journal said, "Our results indicate that men with mild or moderate sensorineural hearing loss have poorer sexual health."
3. Optimize your brain
The Better Hearing Institute reports that a number of studies have come to light over the last few years showing a link between hearing loss and dementia. Another new study by the hearing experts at Johns Hopkins reports that older adults with hearing loss are more likely to develop problems thinking and remembering than older adults whose hearing is normal.
"Our results show that hearing loss should not be considered an inconsequential part of aging, because it may come with some serious long-term consequences to healthy brain functioning," says Lin, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the university's Bloomberg School of Public Health.
In other words a reduction in hearing capacity could be a warning sign of other medical issues, which is another reason why it's important to get tested.
4. Boost your mental health
In a Connect Hearing Canada article, we reported that most hearing loss is gradual and it becomes easier – over time – to slowly change behaviors without realizing it’s happening. If it’s difficult hearing at a restaurant it’s understandable that a person eventually stops going. We hear the same from clients who, prior to wearing hearing aids, had stopped going to meetings, playing sports or enjoying family functions because they simply knew hearing would be a challenge and they’d feel excluded. Often the sum of these small changes can be an unintended different lifestyle.
5. Diabetes and Heart Disease
Staying on the topic of health, we know that diabetes and heart disease can be connected to hearing loss. In two Connect Hearing Canada articles on diabetes and hearing loss (Read Part 1 and Part Two) we quoted the American Diabetes Association that reported of the 79 million adults in the U.S. who have pre-diabetes, the rate of hearing loss is 30 per cent higher than in those with normal blood glucose.
There are also connections with heart disease and hearing loss. In a Connect Hearing Canada article we entitled “Want to hear better? Keep your heart healthy!” we quoted studies that show a healthy cardiovascular system has a positive effect on hearing. And like the canary in the coal mine our inner ear – which is extremely sensitive to blood flow – can reflect changes in the volume of blow flow before other parts of the body that are less sensitive.
6. Maintain your social connections
Dealing with depression is unnecessary and sad as people who become depressed often withdraw. As we said earlier, in many cased it falls to family members to encourage loved ones to seek help. In a Connect Hearing article entitled “5 Hearing Health Conversation Starters to Help Seniors to help” we spoke about the impact hearing loss can have on the morale of a senior citizen and suggested tips for helping those you love get help.
“Our hearing is critical to our quality of life, especially in the way we communicate,” says Waterhouse. “Hearing loss has the ability to separate you from the people and activities you love. I see it all the time and it's sad because it doesn't have to be that way. It's important for family members to help the seniors they love understand what's going on with their hearing. But what's even more important – what I would really love to see – are seniors taking control and coming into our one of our clinics for a hearing test, taking the initiative and saying this is my health, it's my hearing, it's my life and I want to stay connected to it.”
7. Perform better at work
A person dealing with hearing loss may come across as disinterested or incompetent in a job, but nothing could be further from the truth.
In our article “How Hearing Aids Can Help Keep Seniors Mentally Fit”, we reported that hearing loss is something that is often a byproduct of ageing, and can bring specific challenges. Cielo.br calls hearing loss one of the most devastating sensorial deficiencies, because it compromises communication and causes emotional, social and occupational problems. Getting tested could be the first step to improving not only the social life of a senior citizen, but also helping solve career issues.
It isn't just a health issue. Getting tested might actually help your career, and enhance your financial situation.
8. Enjoy your retirement to the fullest
Anything that helps your career can only help your retirement. Retirement is a time to be enjoyed, to savour a life spent doing hard work. Time with children and grand children. Time spent doing the things you want to do. Kick back and relax. Enjoy. It is not a time to be dealing with health and hearing issues. Getting tested will mean more quality time with the people you love and the things you enjoy.
9. Missed Sounds
Sounds that make us feel alive: The laughter of grand children. The song of a bird. Wind blowing through autumn leaves. The words “I do” at your granddaughters wedding. How about Thunder in Saskatchewan. Cheers at NHL Arenas in all seven Canadian cities. Our National Anthem. Vacay.ca ran a beautiful Connect Hearing Canada piece called “Canada’s 10 most amazing sounds”. Looking for a reason to get a hearing check up? Look no further. These are sounds you don't want to miss.
10. Peace of Mind
Making the effort to get your hearing checked will open doors to many answers and options. It may be that you require a hearing aid and if so, don't despair – there are often several treatments and insurance options available. Having the answers means you understand exactly what you are dealing with. In an article with Connect Hearing Canada, basketball sensation Tamara Tatham says that getting a hearing test isn't a big deal at all and she's glad that she did.
“My advice is don’t worry or be afraid,” says Tatham. “For me, wearing the Lyric is just like wearing glasses, it’s like having an eye problem. It’s normal. You don’t have to be afraid to go to Connect Hearing for a hearing test. I really enjoyed working with Joan Steinsky in the Connect Hearing clinic in Toronto. They are so cool, I really love them.”