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Hearing Aids by Tricia Leagjeld - Redmond, OR

Woman improving her life expectancy by wearing hearing aids and working out is outside on a pier.

Just like reading glasses and graying hair, hearing loss is simply one of those things that most people accept as a part of the aging process. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School shows a link between hearing loss and total health in older adults.

Communication troubles, depression, and cognitive decline have a higher occurrence in older people with vision or hearing loss. You may already have read about that. But did you realize that hearing loss is also linked to shorter life expectancy?

This study shows that those with neglected hearing loss might enjoy “fewer years of life”. And, the possibility that they will have difficulty undertaking activities needed for daily life nearly doubles if the person has both hearing and vision impairment. It’s an issue that is both a physical and a quality of life concern.

This might sound bad but there’s a positive: hearing loss, for older people, can be managed through a variety of methods. More significantly, major health issues can be found if you have a hearing test which could inspire you to lengthen your life expectancy by taking better care of yourself.

Why is Hearing Loss Associated With Inferior Health?

While the research is compelling, cause and effect are still uncertain.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other problems like increased risk of stroke and heart disease were observed in older people who had hearing loss.

These results make sense when you understand more about the causes of hearing loss. Countless cases of hearing loss and tinnitus are linked to heart disease since high blood pressure affects the blood vessels in the ear canal. When the blood vessels are shrunken – which can be caused by smoking – the body needs to work harder to push the blood through which leads to high blood pressure. Older adults who have heart problems and hearing loss often experience a whooshing sound in their ears, which is usually caused by high blood pressure.

Hearing loss has also been linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of cognitive decline. Hearing specialists and other health care professionals believe there are several reasons why the two are connected: for starters, the brain needs to work overtime to differentiate words in a conversation, which saps out the brain’s ability to do anything else. In other situations, lots of people who have hearing loss tend to be less social, frequently as a result of the difficulty they have communicating. There can be a severe affect on a person’s mental health from social isolation leading to depression and anxiety.

How Older Adults Can Treat Hearing Loss

Older adults have a number of options for managing hearing loss, but as is shown by research, it is smart to tackle these issues early before they impact your total health.

Hearing aids are one kind of treatment that can be very effective in combating your hearing loss. There are numerous different models of hearing aids available, including small, discreet models that are Bluetooth ready. Also, basic quality of life has been improving due to hearing aid technology. For instance, they filter out background sound far better than older models and can be connected to cell phones, TVs, and computers to allow for better hearing during the entertainment.

Older adults can also go to a nutritionist or talk to their physician about changes to their diet to help stop further hearing loss. There are links between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for example, which can usually be treated by adding more iron into your diet. Changes to your diet could also positively impact other health issues, leading to an overall more healthy lifestyle.

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