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Hearing Capacity as We Age

Our hearing capacity, as we age, can diminish.  Typically, both men and women start to lose their hearing between the ages of 65 and 74. Interestingly, the loss is due in part, to damage to the hair cells in our ears.  These hair cells start to disappear as we age.  Hearing loss happens gradually, however 50% of those aged 65 and older are affected by some hearing loss.

What are the symptoms?

  • Background noise interfering with your understanding of certain words.
  • Difficulty with hearing consonants.
  • Having to ask people to repeat what they have just said.
  • Speech beginning to sound muffled.
  • Needing to turn up the sound on your TV or Radio.
  • Avoiding social situations and conversations.

It is possible to suffer hearing loss in one ear only, this is known as unilateral deafness.  Not related to age, it is normally due to an injury, illness or a blockage in your ear.

If you have one or more of these symptoms, then you should see your doctor for a referral for a hearing test with an audiologist.  It is recommended to have a hearing test each year once you reach 60.


Communication Strategies

  • Say the person’s name to get their attention. We are conditioned to respond to our name.
  • Speak slower and more clearly, but not to the point of being patronising.
  • Use fewer words to communicate, deliberately choosing more straightforward and recognisable words to get your message across.
  • Don’t shout, because increasing the volume cannot compensate for the loss of specific frequencies.

Hearing loss greatly impacts one’s enjoyment of life.  Being able to hear the voice of a loved one, but not being able to discern the words is incredibly frustrating.  Those with hearing loss will often nod and smile because they are unable to hear your words.  They may withdraw from social situations which can lead to isolation and depression.


Hearing Aids

A hearing aid receives all sound through a microphone, unlike normal hearing that can filter out background noise.  This means all sounds come through at the same volume.  So, rain outside, traffic or someone talking in front of you, all come through at the same volume, and that can take some readjusting and getting used to.  This is often why the elderly give up and leave their hearing aids in their drawers.

Untreated hearing loss will only worsen over time.  According to research, the risk of falling also increases in people with moderate to extreme hearing loss.  If you suspect hearing loss in your loved ones, seek assistance as soon as possible.  We have many residents at Homestyle that have some degree of hearing loss, and they are able to participate in and enjoy our activities and Lifestyle programs.  If you would like to visit one of our homes in Melbourne or Geelong contact us here or phone us on (03) 9559 0400.

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