Hearing Loss and Aging

As our population ages, clinical audiologists anticipate an escalation in hearing loss cases due to age. Though this condition is not life threatening, hearing loss can still significantly diminish quality of life and limit interactions with others.

Hearing loss associated with aging typically manifests itself in a gradual reduction of hearing higher frequencies, leading to difficulty understanding female or children’s voices and speech over background noise, leading to isolation, social disengagement, and depression.

Hearing loss has also been proven to negatively impact other cognitive abilities, with studies showing older adults who go untreated experience faster cognitive decline than those using hearing aids or other forms of hearing restoration1.

Age-related hearing loss may also be the result of medications, particularly chemotherapy drugs that irritate sensory cells in the ear (such as antifungals) or abnormalities of middle ear structure. Furthermore, losing one’s sense of smell may make food less appealing while stiffening of larynx tissues may lead to hoarseness or aspiration of food or fluids into the throat while swallowing (aspiration).

If your aging loved one is having difficulty communicating with you, do not wait. Contact a healthcare provider immediately so they can conduct a medical exam and hearing test, using a lighted scope to inspect ear canals for damage from foreign objects, buildup of wax, hearing loss, and suggest strategies that can help both of you communicate better together.