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Listen Up!

Problems with ears

Many older adults experience some amount of hearing loss as they age.  In fact, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, roughly one in three 65-74 year olds suffer from hearing loss. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people with hearing problems do not seek treatment. Hearing loss has been linked to numerous health risks, including depression, anxiety and less socialization. A research study published in the February 25, 2013 edition of JAMA Internal Medicine found an independent association between hearing loss and cognitive decline. Those with the greatest degree of hearing loss showed the greatest mental decline. Hearing loss can make everyday activities such as walking and driving unsafe as the individual may be unable to hear approaching traffic, car horns, and other sounds that serve as warnings.

Given the physical and health risks associated with hearing loss, a hearing aid seems like a no brainer, but many seniors shy away from these devices because of cost, denial or embarrassment. If you know someone who is having trouble hearing, encourage them to visit their doctor and explore their options. Technology has vastly improved, and today’s hearing aids are much less conspicuous than older models. If cost is the prohibitive factor, shop around, try to negotiate on price and research your health plan options. Hearing is something we often take for granted, but without it, our quality of life would suffer greatly.

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