The hearing loss we experience as older adults can be stressful, as it becomes harder to have a quiet conversation over coffee or sing along to our favorite music. While that may seem more annoying than life-threatening, there are other negative effects of hearing loss we should also take into consideration. Hearing loss, depending on the cause, can lead to other medical issues or health problems.
Hearing Loss Can Cause Problems with Health
Hearing loss is often associated with difficulties in maintaining balance. The inner structures of the ear are important to being able to walk upright and move in the right direction. The loss of a sense of balance can make people more prone to falling, which is why older adults who suffer hearing loss are three times more likely to fall than those who don’t. And people who have brittle bones and weak joints are more susceptible to experience serious injury from a fall.
When we can’t participate in daily activities the way we used to because of hearing loss, we may decide to spend more time alone. We may engage less with our surroundings or avoid participating in activities that stimulate the mind and body. In older adults particularly, becoming sedentary and solitary can lead to a number of issues, such as:
- A decline in cognitive functions, including memory loss and difficulty concentrating.
- Problems with the cardiovascular system
- Loss of muscle tone and weight gain, which can lead to further deterioration of overall health
How Health Problems Can Affect Hearing in Seniors
As we age, it is not unusual to experience some cardiovascular issues. Some individuals may develop Type 2 diabetes. These conditions impede blood flow to nerves, which can cause a lack of sensation (neuropathy). Recent studies have shown that poor circulation can also cause hearing problems.
Hearing loss can be a sign of other serious health conditions in older adults. Studies have shown that, aside from the diabetes link, there is a correlation between hearing loss and kidney problems. There may also be a link between hearing loss and clogged arteries. Talk to your doctor if you experience a sudden loss of hearing rather than the gradual type of loss that seniors usually experience.
Protecting Hearing Health
If you’re living with hearing loss, you can take it in stride. This means get out, and walk! Or, Engage in other activities you enjoy. Make an effort to keep in touch with friends to let them know how you’re doing. They’re more likely to be helpful and encourage you to remain socially active, and staying active and engaged can help mitigate the effects of hearing loss.
You can talk to your doctor about tools to help you overcome some of the problems that accompany the decrease in your hearing, and resulting impact on daily living. When it comes to staying socially connected by telephone, Florida Telecommunications Relay offers free amplified telephones and other specialized devices that can help. Any Florida resident who has a certified hearing loss and is over the age of three qualifies. Visit the agency’s website to learn more.