We offer comfortable hearing exams to make sure you’re not putting yourself at risk.
Read more about the DANGERS OF FORGOING HEARING TREATMENT; It only takes about 20 minutes to have us check your hearing and display your results on a big screen with graphs and charts.
Untreated Hearing Loss in Adults: A Growing National Epidemic and now it’s been been linked to Dementia
The statistics of hearing loss is alarming. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, estimates 36 million Americans have a hearing loss—this includes 17% of our adults. About one third of the populace between ages 65 and 74 have hearing loss, but now it’s increasing with younger persons with the increased use of headphones and our noisier world. Hearing loss constitutes about a third of the most prevalent chronic health conditions. (Collins, 1997). Unfortunately, only 20% of people who might benefit from treatment actually get the help they need. Most persons delay treatment until they cannot communicate effectively.
Age-Related Hearing Loss
Hearing loss has a number of contributing factors, including age and genetics, noise exposure and chronic disease, such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and heart disease to name a few. Age-related hearing loss is generally slow and it t affects both ears equally. Presbycusis begins in the high frequencies and later affects the lower lows. One of the first signs is often an inability to hear and understand speech in noise. Because of this slow progression, most people do not readily acknowledge their hearing loss, considering it a normal part of the aging process. Spouses or significant others generally become frustrated by the hearing loss long before the individual even acknowledges it.
Impact of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is not simply measured in decibels. It can be an individual experience, and will depend on many factors, including early onset, the progressive nature of the loss, the severity of the loss, communication demands, and a person’s personality. Regardless of the combination of these factors, hearing loss has been linked to Dementia, feelings of depression, anxiety, frustration, social isolation, fatigue and other medical problems.
Studies have documented the impact of untreated hearing loss. An often cited survey of nearly 4,000 adults with hearing loss and has shown significantly higher rates of depression, anxiety, and other psychosocial disorders. Surveys have looked at the positive benefits of amplification and showed that hearing aid use positively affected quality of life for both the hearing aid wearer and their loved-ones. These findings are consistent with the findings of a largely controlled study which showed hearing loss was associated with decreased social communication, and cognitive functions found in depression: These conditions were usually improved after hearing aids were fit.
Dr. Frank Lin and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins University found a strong link between hearing loss and risk of developing dementia. Persons with even mild hearing loss were twice as likely to develop dementia as those with normal hearing, those with moderate hearing loss were three times more likely, and those with severe hearing loss had five times the risk. While this study could not definitively conclude that hearing aids would reduce the risk of dementia, there was a direct correlation between degree of hearing loss and risk of dementia.
Hearing loss is a handicap. It is increasingly prevalent with age. Hearing loss is often ignored during the diagnosis of cognitive and memory disorders in patients. The National Institute on Aging charted the relationship between vision impairment and hearing loss on quality of life and have concluded how both hearing loss and vision impairment have a negative impact on health and daily activities.
Benefits of Treatment
As Gagné, Southall, and Jennings (2011) pointed out why individuals delay in seeking hearing health services, “In order to live well with hearing loss, one must recognize and accept it. Many people must overcome the misplaced shame and poor self-esteem that they may experience” (para. 2). The fitting of hearing aids needs to be part of a larger treatment program that includes the individual and his or her significant others. Research has shown improved quality of life and satisfaction when significant others receive help with their hearing loss.
Healthy People 2020 outlined several goals that relate to improving hearing health outcomes. The initiative calls for an increase in the number of persons over 60 who use hearing aids and hearing assistive technology as well as the number of adults ages 20–70. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011). The impact of untreated hearing loss cannot be ignored. Early and careful evaluation and treatment show great promise in mitigating the consequences of hearing loss on long-term health and quality of life. A health care system that recognizes the importance of early identification and treatment is critical. Educating consumers of the importance of seeking treatment for themselves and their loved ones will be essential. Changing perceptions regarding hearing loss is critical to helping the number of individuals who will benefit from early management. Ongoing research and advocacy regarding early detection and management of hearing loss may help encourage better funding for hearing aids too.
Administration on Aging. (2011). A profile of older Americans: 2010.
Chartrand, M. S. (2005). Undiagnosed pre-existing hearing loss in Alzheimer’s disease patients. Audiology Online.
Chisolm, T. H., Abrams, H. B., & McArdle, R. (2004). Short- and long-term outcomes of adult audiological rehabilitation. Ear and Hearing, 25, 464–477.
Collins, J. G. (1997). Prevalence of selected chronic conditions: United States 1990–1992. Vital and Health Statistics, 10(194). Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.
Crews, J. E., & Campbell, V. A. (2004).Vision impairment and hearing loss among community-dwelling older Americans: Implication for health and functioning. American Journal of Public Health, 94, 823–829.
Davis, A., Smith, P., Ferguson, M., Stephens, D., & Gianopoulos, I. (2007). Acceptability, benefit and costs of early screening for hearing disability: A study of potential screening tests and models. Health Technology Assessment, 11, 1–294.
Gagné, J.-P., Southall, K., & Jennings, M. B. (2011). Stigma and self-stigma associated with acquired hearing loss in adults. Hearing Review, 18(8), 16–22.
Kaland, M., & Salvatore, K. (2002, March 19). The psychology of hearing loss. The ASHA Leader, 7(5), pp. 4–5, 14–15.
Kochkin, S., & Rogin, C. M. A. (2000). Quantifying the obvious: The impact of hearing instruments on quality of life [PDF, 5.5MB]. Hearing Review, 7(1), 8–34.
Kramer, S. E., Allessie, G. H., Dondorp, A. W., Zekveld, A. A., & Kapteyn, T. S. (2005). A home education program for older adults with hearing impairment and their significant others: A randomized trial evaluating short- and long-term effects. International Journal of Audiology, 44, 255–264.
Lin, F. R., Metter, E. J., O’Brien, R. J., Resnick, S. M., Zonderman, A. B., & Ferrucci, L. (2011). Hearing loss and incident dementia. Archives of Neurology, 68, 214–220.
Mulrow, C. D., Aguilar, C., Endicott, J. E., Tuley, M. R., Velez, R., Charlip, W. S., …DeNino, L. A. (1990). Quality-of-life changes and hearing impairment. A randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 113, 188–194.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. (2010). Quick statistics.
Saunders, G. H., & Echt, K. (2011, March 15). Dual sensory impairment in an aging population. The ASHA Leader, 16(3), pp. 5, 7.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2011). Topics & objectives index—Healthy People.