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Hearing Impairment And Aging

Updated: Jun 2, 2023


Aging is accompanied by many changes including physical, sensory, and, in the broad sense, psychological changes such as changes in personality and lifestyle.

Hearing loss is the third most common chronic condition seen in the elderly population, following hypertension and arthritis.

Age-related hearing impairment is an increasingly important public health problem that calls for audiological rehabilitation.

What are the special considerations for the use of hearing aids for older adults?

The fitting and dispensing of hearing aids and other amplification systems and devices are important aspects of the process of aural rehabilitation.

When an auditory level of an older adult is brought to a more efficient level through the appropriate fitting of the hearing aid, then other components of auditory habilitation and rehabilitation programs are facilitated.

For many older individuals, a properly used hearing aid will enhance their ability to interact more competently and more enjoyably in their social and personal worlds.

What are the factors influencing successful hearing aid use by older adults?

The important factors that go beyond a person’s auditory function that must be considered when determining the appropriateness of amplification for older adults:

1. Motivation

2. Adaption

3. Personal appraisal

4. Money / financial status

5. Social context

6. Personal influences

7. Mobility

8. Vanity and

9. Dexterity

What are the associated problems with Hearing Impairment for older adults?

1. Visual impairment

2. Auditory processing disorders and cognitive processing

3. Psychological problems

Any psychosocial aspects to be considered?

Adults with Hearing Impairment may be more likely to suffer from feelings of loneliness than their normal-hearing counterparts and more likely to experience decreased self-esteem and other emotional difficulties, including embarrassment, and uncertainty about one’s social identity.

They may begin to perceive that friends avoid them.

At home, individuals may believe that their family does not understand the consequences of hearing loss, nor do they adequately accommodate their listening needs.

Anger, frustrations, and resentment directed toward one’s spouse or children may be seen.

In such cases,

  • Counselling will give information, advice, and support to guide the opinions, attitudes, or behavior of a hearing-impaired person.

  • And overcome negative attitudes that interfere with rehabilitation.

Age-Related Changes in Auditory Mechanism:

In older adults, it is observed that due to aging there are excessive production of cerumen, hair growth in and around of the ear canal, collapsed ear canal, enlargement of pinna, stiffening, thinning, and loss of vascularity of the tympanic membrane, arthritic changes in ossicular joints i.e. Ossicles are the tiniest bones in the human body, atrophy and degeneration of the fibers of the middle ear muscles and the ossicular ligaments, ossification of the ossicles, calcification of the cartilaginous support of the eustachian tube and decline of muscle function that opens the tube, loss of sensory and supporting cells in the cochlea and degeneration of the neurons.

What are the treatment strategies for hearing loss due to aging?

It all starts from prevention – by avoiding ear infection, noise exposure or drugs etc. at initial stages and the proverb states as, ‘’the prevention is better than cure’’. Some causes of hearing impairment in elderly people are not well enough understood to allow effective preventive measures.

There are few treatment strategies as follows:

• Medical and surgical treatments

• Hearing aid and or assistive listening device evaluation, orientation and adjustments.

• Providing therapy to maintain speech and language.

• Providing therapy to increase listening strategies.

• Counseling on possible psychological, emotional, & occupation impacts of hearing loss.

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