Aging... It's one of those things that we all must deal with in life; like it or not. Lots of things happened to us as we age. We gain weight! UGH! We slow down, even when we don't think we are moving slower... You KNOW that you are! Our touch gets a little less sensitive. Maybe our vision causes us problems, and yes, our memory and our hearing get worse. Why? Well, there are many reasons such as noise exposure, injury, illness, or medicines or simply just the aging process itself.
Hearing loss can be sneaky. Many people, depending upon the frequencies affected don't realize that they have as severe of a hearing loss as they do. People who have worked around noise may be missing mostly high frequencies and therefore have problems understanding but the volume and noise seem almost perfect. It is usually a spouse or family member who will notice it first. Especially if the spouse is a wife and her high-pitched voice isn't being understood! Haha!!
If you have a hearing loss and you do not treat it, there are two main consequences. The first is a decline in social interaction and an increase in depression. The second is paranoia, people think others are mad at them for no reason. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Director James Battey Jr. said it best: "Hearing loss is not just about the INABILITY to communicate. It has a broader impact on individual' lives. It makes them uneasy participating in activities where hearing is important, such as any kind of social interaction- going to parties or going out to dinner in a restaurant where background noise might make it difficult to engage in a conversation.” A recent study by the Seniors Research Group confirms that a group of 2300 participants reported feelings of sadness & depression for up to 2 weeks after being exposed to situations where they could not engage because of their hearing loss.
It is now known that depression can lead to dementia. Research at John Hopkins University reveal that as people age our brains naturally shrink; and according to the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging that compared brain changes over time between adults with normal hearing and those with hearing loss; this shrinkage is faster among people who have hearing loss. During the 10-year study they discovered that the participants that had impaired hearing lost a one additional cubic centimeter of brain tissue PER YEAR compared to those people who had normal hearing. The brain has several regions that all work together for speech, memory, and sensory skills. This study puts the importance on the urgency of treating your hearing loss. You want to treat it before your brain structure makes any changes. The link between dementia and hearing loss is real... Hearing loss speeds up the progression of that disease, yet people tend to wait 5-7 years between first experiencing symptoms and seeking help. If you or a loved one is having communication issues or memory issues, then proceed with a hearing exam as quickly as possible. Hearing instruments will reconnect you with your world and help keep your brain structure healthy.