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Addressing Hearing Loss in Older Adults

Florida First on December 19, 2017

If you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss as a result of aging, you’re not alone. And, you may have been developing these issues as early as in your 40s. Hearing loss in older adults is a progressive problem, meaning it gets worse with age. But, if you can still hear, it may not be too late to get help with hearing. And, there are other ways to acquire help like through services provided by in-home caregivers.

Finding the Right Professional to Address Hearing Loss in Older Adults

The first thing you’ll want to do when you experience hearing loss is have the cause diagnosed by a professional. There are a number of reasons why seniors may experience a loss of hearing. And, the causes may determine whether treatment may or may not be effective. But, what kind of professional should you choose to get an accurate diagnosis?

While you may think your general physician can assist in diagnosing, he or she is likely to forward you to an audiologist. These medical professionals are not actually doctors, but have obtained a higher educational degree to obtain their professional status. They are responsible for diagnosing the cause of hear loss for any individual who experiences it. To do so, they utilize a number of tests which will help them to determine which areas of the ear are affected and by how much. Basically, they make patients listen to sounds through various devices to determine whether or not they can hear specific tones and pitches of sound.

Usually, audiologists don’t have their own practices. In fact, they usually work in the same environment as a doctor who can perform surgery and prescribe treatment for hearing loss in older adults known as an ear, nose, and throat physician (ENT). These doctors are the individuals who will help to determine the best course of action once the audiologist has determined a cause for hearing loss.

Causes of Hearing Loss in Older Adults

There are a few reasons why hearing loss in older adults occurs. Some are preventable and treatable while others are inevitable and incurable. Causes of hearing loss may include:

Ear Wax: A buildup of earwax can actually lead to loss of hearing. Utilizing Q-tips as a method for ear cleaning can actually push wax into the inner ear, leading to a loss of sound traveled to the eardrum. Fortunately, for those who are experiencing this issue, an ENT can perform a quick, easy procedure to eliminate troublesome earwax buildup.

Nerve Damage: The nervous system is responsible for carrying information to the brain. And, this information includes sound, which is picked up by nerves in the inner ear. But, loud sounds can actually cause nerve damage to these nerve cells, resulting in a lack of ability to process sound. While nerve damage can be repaired on its own, it often isn’t for older individuals. Additionally, seniors are more likely to experience ear nerve cell damage than younger adults.

Genetics: Some families pass down height, some pass down inheritance, and some pass down medical issues. One of these medical issues which can be passed down genetically is hearing loss. When there is no other known cause for hearing loss, it’s usually diagnosed as genetic hearing loss.

Medications: Specific prescription medications or treatments have been known to lead to hearing loss in older adults. Especially chemotherapy medications. While it’s rare, it can happen.

Treatment with Hearing Aids

Usually, treatment for hearing loss in older adults is hearing aids. These are small devices which fit into the ears to expand sound. While it doesn’t work for every type of hearing loss, only your doctor can help you to determine what type of treatment works for you. Along with considering hearing aids, also consider gaining the help of an in-home caregiver who may assist with any needs that hearing loss may have made difficult. These tasks may include holding telephone conversations, writing important notes, caring for hearing aids, and much more. To find out how to have a reputable caregiver referred to you or your loved one, contact Florida First Senior Home Care today!