Blog - The Effects Of Age Related Hearing Loss On Quality Of Life - Dec 2014

According to the hearing charity ‘Action on Hearing Loss’ (1) over 10 million adults in the UK report some degree of hearing loss. Two in three of which were thought to suffer from age-related hearing loss, (also referred to as presbycusis) a gradual deterioration in hearing ability due to the natural aging process, which can start from as early as a person’s 40s.

 

What Causes Age Related Hearing Loss

 

Hearing loss can occur at any age, and can be caused by a vast number of different reasons. In the case of age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) it is caused due to deterioration/damage to the sensory cells that are responsible for capturing the information contained within incoming sound and deliver this information via the hearing nerve to the brain. As the body ages, the specialised sensory cells can simply deteriorate or die and hearing loss occurs. The body is unable to regrow new sensory cells, though stem cell research may provide the answer to regenerating these cells one day.

 

Health Effects Of Hearing Loss

 

Problems often begin due to the difficulty in conducting conversation with others, essential to all social interactions. This may mean include having to ask people to keep repeating their words, mis-hearing certain words and therefore answering questions incorrectly, having to concentrate extra hard during a conversation, having to make guesses as to what has been said. All of which can lead to exhaustion after interaction with others and ultimately may make someone with hearing loss decide to avoid participating in the conversation all together. ‘It’s just easier this way.’ Removing oneself from conversation can quickly lead to

 

  • Social exclusion and reduced interaction with others

  • Feelings of anxiety and worry

  • Depression and adjustment disorder

  • Feelings of shame, humiliation, and inadequacy

  • Loss of confidence

  • Reduced quality of life

 

Furthermore, we now know, thanks to research by Johns Hopkins and Harvard, that unmanaged hearing loss can have far reaching effects on an individual’s mental health. It is the relationship between reduced auditory stimuli and patterns of reclusiveness that is causing concern, including progression of dementia.

 

Managing Hearing Loss

 

It is good practice to have ones hearing tested at every 2-3 years. Some professionals may also recommend that individuals over the age of 65 undergo a hearing test on an annual basis. Regular testing will ensure that any hearing loss or change of hearing loss is picked up relatively soon and suitable management offered. Age-related hearing loss is an irreversible condition. While management options will not cure the underlying hearing loss, they do provide a way to limit the negative effect on ones quality of life. The most common solution offered is hearing aids. Hearing aids are microcomputers that are enclosed in a variety of shapes and styles to fit in or around the wearer’s ear(s). They are available from private companies and on the HNS.

 

Hearing loss should not be left unmanaged and there is no reason to just ‘live with it’. If you suspect that your hearing is impaired talk to your doctor about getting your hearing checked and about your options.

 

Joan McKechnie BSc Hons Audiology & Speech Pathology at HearingDirect. For more information on hearing loss you can read Joan’s Blog (found here).

 

(1) Action On Hearing Loss http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/your-hearing/about-deafness-and-hearing-loss/statistics.aspx

 

 

December 2014

Useful links

 Newcastle City Council Social Care Direct - Adult social care services for deaf, hard of hearing, blind, partially sighted, deafblind people. Click here for more information.

If anyone Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing living in Newcastle is struggling they can arrange a needs assessment by contacting Social Care Direct on 0191 2788377 or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Once the assessment is complete, equipment can be offered free of charge and is not means tested.  Once equipment has been provided subsequent equipment would need to be self-funded. There is a website to support the identification of equipment and clients should visit www.myequipmentnewcastle.org.uk


Another Council Services can be found on this link http://www.deaflink.org.uk/important-services/city-council


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