The five senses all add to the value of life, and when one sense becomes impaired, it may feel like life has lost some worth. One of the most common impairments among seniors is hearing loss. In fact, one-third of Americans age 65 and older report some kind of hearing impairment due to various factors.
When your hearing starts to diminish, it can impair your social life, ability to communicate, and your environmental awareness. Hearing actually assists your sense of balance, and damage to hearing can increase the risk of falls among elders, impeding your ability to live independently.
Causes of Hearing Loss
The sense of hearing naturally diminishes with the aging process, but damage to hearing can be greatly multiplied with chronic exposure to loud noises. Harmful loud noise may include concert events, ear-bud headphones, lawnmowers, etc. Prolonged exposure to such noises can cause irreversible damage to the inner ear, harming tiny hair cells that carry sound to the brain.
Another cause of hearing loss that is easier to treat, is when ear wax, fluid build up, or infection obstruct sound to the middle-ear. A qualified otolaryngologist can reverse the hearing loss by removing such obstructions; however if damage has been done to the inner ear, then you may need to see an audiologist to test your ears for more permanent hearing damage, and review your hearing aid options.
Best Hearing Aid Options
While Damage to the inner ear is permanent, modern hearing aid technology is more affordable than ever. Hearing aids do not restore normal hearing, but can amplify sounds to significantly improve your hearing and allow you to carry out a normal life. It may take a few weeks or a few months to completely adjust a hearing aid to be right with your individual need. There are varying tiers of sophisticated quality models, based on your degree of need.
Traditional hearing aids merely amplified all sound, including unwanted background noise, which many seniors found irritating and painful to listen to at times. Hearing aid technology has drastically improved in recent years, as newer digital hearing aids have changed the market. In contrast to just amplifying the volume of everything, digital hearing aids use microphones to for transmitting sound to a computer chip that uses discernment to basically moderate the volume levels as well as filter out the unnecessary background noises.
Digital hearing aids provide many conveniences for seniors who are still working or have any amount of tech competence. These hearing aids can use Bluetooth to be synced with a smartphone, allowing you to hear calls more clearly through the hearing aid. You may also configure it to hear audio from your television, music player, or computer if you like.
Be sure to meet with professional hearing doctors before selecting which hearing aid is best for you. You may find that a very sophisticated model is not necessary for you at this time, or they may be exactly what you’re looking for. The affordability of quality digital hearing aids is increasing rapidly, as each year sees prices fall. Advanced aids that would have cost thousands five years ago may cost hundreds now. Look into how digital hearing aids apply to your budget and your level of need.
Personal Sound Amplifiers (PSAPs) are less sophisticated hearing aids intended for people with only mild hearing loss. These products are sold over the counter and do not require a prescription from a hearing doctor. These primarily amplify sound, with less discernment than digital hearing aids. PSAPs are not subjected to the same quality standards as conventional prescription hearing aids by the Food and Drug Administration; so it would be wise to still consort with a doctor before investing in a PSAP as well. These models typically cost anywhere from $25 to $500 depending on the model or seller.
At first the process of researching your options, going through tests, and understanding the technology for how a hearing aid can improve your life may seem very daunting, but it is worth the investment in order to restore your role as a communicator in your social sphere and to avoid misunderstandings, having to ask other to repeat themselves, and negating the hazard of falling.