Aging and Hearing Loss

More than thirty -one million Americans are affected by hearing loss and fully two-thirds are over the age of 55. Among the great chronic health conditions of the 65 and older group, hearing impairments ranks number three, right after arthritis and hypertension. Fully a third of age 50-plus persons in the United States have hearing disabilities. Over age 70 the incidence of hearing disabilities increases to near 50 percent. Unfortunately, loss of hearing is more prevalent than ever in history, yet the gradual course of auditory aging is not the primary cause of this problem. What has changed in our society since 1960′ is the increasing acceptance of loud noise and loud music.

Hearing instruments have continued to advance technologically. The most revolutionary advancement is probably the “Open Fit” (also called open ear or open canal) hearing instruments, which are largely invisible to the observer and can be fitted to people with mild through moderately severe hearing losses. But this new design is especially friendly to seniors with characteristics audiograms that fall off in the high frequencies and physical handling difficulties experienced with some other types of hearing instruments.

Many older persons listen to music, although a hearing difficulty may interfere with their enjoyment. Since a typical hearing loss during the aging tears robs them of higher pitch sounds that are audible to normal hearing people, the hard of hearing tend to synapse xt increase the volume in order to make the music more audible, sometimes to the discomfort of others. A problem with this adjustment is that when the music is made louder, lower pitch notes become amplified as well, and may register as being too loud for some listeners. Emphasizing just the high note emphasis, if such an adjustment is available on the television set, radio or stereo system.

Another factor that interferes with listening enjoyment is a phenomenon called “recruitment.” This is the abnormal growth of loudness that may occur among some persons with sensory hearing losses. They require special care in the selection of appropriate hearing aid characteristics.

It’s important to know that when you take charge of any sensory limitations with proper eyeglasses, hearing instruments, etc., you’re really taking care of your brain, the single most important organ in your body. When your ears transmit sounds to the brain as electrical impulses, it is the brain that actually hears. And when your hearing aid helps you hear high frequency sounds in music or in speech, there “new” sounds reach the brain and it immediately “plasticizes” the experience.

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