Is recognizing speech like riding a bike? Is it a skill that never goes away once you’ve learned it? Or, can adult onset hearing loss negatively impact speech recognition?
Researchers have been asking that question for a long time. Three different studies — in 1984, 1987 and 1999, respectively — resulted in evidence that suggests auditory deprivation does have speech recognition consequences.
All three studies focused on people with bilateral hearing loss, who only wore a hearing aid in one ear. The findings showed signs of reduced speech recognition in unaided ears, suggesting that if we don’t use it, we may indeed lose it.
If you are not hearing as sharp as you used to, contact Pure Sound for a free, no obligation, hearing screening.
Gelfand, S.A., Silman, S., Ross, L. (1987). Long-term effects of monaural, binaural, and no amplification in subjects with bilateral hearing loss. Scandinavian Audiology, 16, 201-207.
Hurley, R. (1999). Onset of auditory deprivation. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 10, 529-534.
Silman, S., Gelfand, S., & Silverman, C.A. (1984). Late-onset auditory deprivation: Effects of monaural versus binaural hearing aids. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 76(5), 1357-1362.
Everyone takes their hearing for granted until they start having difficulty understanding normal conversations or detecting sounds of differing frequencies. Many times, you are not even aware your hearing is impaired because hearing loss happens so gradually and unobtrusively. It slowly worsens over the years without producing any perceptible symptoms.
For some seniors, it may be hard to admit they are having difficulty hearing. Age-related hearing loss is especially difficult to come to terms with. Wrinkled skin can be smoothed by injections, and laser-assisted body sculpting can give you a youthful figure. Hearing loss due to aging, however, is irreversible.
Hearing Loss and Seniors
First of all, be aware that people over 65 are a stoic group of people who lived in a time when admitting you had physical issues was a sign of weakness.
Many seniors may also think hearing aids are big, bulky devices that are uncomfortable and protrude visibly from the ear. They may not have taken the time to investigate today's tiny, microchip hearing aids — some no bigger than a dime. So be patient and compassionate when you bring up the subject of hearing loss for the first time.
If you encounter resistance, wait until the moment arises when their hearing loss is evident — during a conversation, when watching television or even when driving. You might consider explaining that the inability to hear could lead to them losing their driver's license, failing to hear a train whistle or not hearing their home fire alarm go off when they are watching TV at a loud volume.
Reassure them that hearing loss happens to just about everybody, and it's nothing to be ashamed of. Let them know you are concerned about keeping their quality of life as high as possible and genuinely want them to enjoy every minute of family and holiday gatherings. Once you've gotten them talking about their hearing loss, bring the subject of hearing aids into the conversation by showing them images of the latest hearing aid models.
Help for Parents Losing Hearing: State-of-the-Art Hearing Aids
Types of hearing aids include behind-the ear, mini behind-the-ear, in-the-ear and completely-in-the-canal. In addition, there are analog hearing aids that amplify all sounds by making consecutive sound waves louder. Some are programmable to allow for various listening environments. Digital hearing aids improve hearing by converting sound waves into digital sound signals that accurately duplicate the actual sounds. Hearing aids equipped with directional microphones can also help your parent engage in conversations in noisy environments.
To find the perfect hearing aid for your parent, contact us today, and we'll be happy to help.