Happy New Year! For many of us, as we welcome in the New Year, we often set resolutions that are health and wellness related. The importance of hearing is an aspect of our health that can often be overlooked. However, hearing health is more important than one might think. Research shows us the many ways that untreated hearing loss can affect one’s wellbeing. Hearing loss is a medical condition and should be approached with a high level of medical care.
Untreated hearing loss impacts both our social and physical health, including dementia, social isolation, depression, memory loss and fatigue. Approximately 22% of the population over 65 years of age have mild cognitive impairment and the risk of dementia is closely related to the severity of hearing loss. The lack of auditory stimulus to the brain creates an overload on other neural pathways. The brain is what makes sense of the sounds we hear. When we are missing auditory information, the cognitive function of the brain has to work harder. This can result in less working memory available to recognize sounds and understand the meaning.
Not treating hearing loss can cause someone to withdraw from social events that they once enjoyed, and this may contribute to depression. There is also an increase in the risk of falls as hearing and balance share neural pathways. Hearing loss combined with vision loss can reduce spatial awareness and reduce attention capacity leading to a loss of balance. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in adults over 65 years of age.
Hearing loss is also linked to diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease.
Reach out to your medical provider or an audiologist for the first steps in a hearing evaluation if you are experiencing any of the following:
· Difficulty understanding in noise or groups
· Turning the volume up on the TV
· Asking people to repeat words or phrases
· Difficulty understanding voices on the phone
· Family and friends complaining that you did not hear them correctly.
Hearing loss that comes on later in life has taken many years. It is not uncommon for family and friends to notice these changes first.
Although age-related hearing loss is permanent, the good news is that it is effectively treated today with digital hearing devices!
As both owner and audiologist of Conejo Hearing Center, I take pride in ensuring each one of my patients is treated in a holistic health care model. Developing a relationship with your local hearing care professional helps ensure each individual’s specific needs are heard and addressed and an effective communication plan is established.
One of the most challenging situations that our patients face daily is difficulty hearing in noisy environments. In addition to our medical grade hearing devices, we also firmly believe in utilizing additional technologies to aid our patients for the most successful listening and communication outcomes. With that in mind we encourage our patients to utilize assistive listening devices such as remote microphones, table microphones and TV adapters (to name a few)!
We also encourage important communication skills, such as speaking face-to-face, speaking at a natural pace and trying to reduce background noise. Trying to talk to someone in another room or while their attention is focused elsewhere is never a good idea! Get someone’s attention first and even mention the topic as well. Better hearing includes both the listener and the speaker.
Cheers and “hears” to better hearing in 2024!
For more information, call 818.991.3800 or visit ConejoHearingCenter.com.
Christine Wilson has been a licensed audiologist since 1999 and holds a BS in Business Administration, an MS in Communication Disorders and Sciences (Audiology) and a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A) from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association. She is a member of the American Academy of Audiology and owner of Conejo Hearing Center, located at 5655 Lindero Canyon Road, Suite 506 in Westlake Village.