International Day of Older Persons: detect hearing loss
This 2021 theme for the International Day of Older Persons, "Digital Equity for All Ages", emphasizes the need for older persons to have access and meaningful participation in the digital world.
The fourth industrial revolution, characterized by rapid digital innovation and exponential growth, has transformed all sectors of society, including the way of life, work and relationships. Technological advancements offer great hope for accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
However, half of the world's population lives without an Internet connection. The most obvious differences are reflected between the most developed and the least developed countries, with 87% and 19% respectively; as shown by 2020 data from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Furthermore, recent ITU reports indicate that women and the elderly experience digital inequality to a greater extent than other groups in society. They lack access to technologies or often do not fully benefit from the opportunities offered by technological progress.
In this sense, and taking into account that the last week of September is the International Week of the Deaf People, miResi specialists have drawn up a list of the 10 most common symptoms of hearing loss in the elderly and thus be able to stop in time the hearing loss, something that is essential to have access to the digital world, on the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons 2021, and its motto, "Digital equity for all ages".
As people get older they lose hearing abilities. For this reason, it is very normal to find situations of elders who raise their tone of voice a lot, or tend to argue with their family members. This is because, the fact of not listening well, causes misunderstandings and confusing situations.
It is important that society knows what are the problems associated with hearing loss in the elderly and what it can do to improve the lives of the elderly.
Hearing loss in the elderly, or presbycusis are two names for age-related hearing loss in older adults. It is a problem that arises as a cause of aging. But not all the elderly experience it. It is one of the most common problems in the elderly, and, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD, for its acronym in English) approximately half of people over 75 years have hearing difficulties . In addition, one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 has some degree of hearing loss.
This hearing loss occurs slowly, so many people do not perceive the problem from the beginning. Progressively, faculties in the ear canal are lost, in the same way that other organs wear out due to aging.
However, there are other factors that can lead to the appearance of hearing loss in the elderly. Sometimes, if it has been exposed to high volumes of noise, or for a long time, hearing abilities can also be lost. It is also possible that it appears due to causes of a medical nature, such as high blood pressure or other pathologies, as well as the use of toxic medications that can damage the sensory cells of the ears.
In any case, it is very important to be attentive to the symptoms of hearing loss in the elderly in order to act quickly and improve the lives of the elderly and those around them.
In addition, studies show that older people with hearing difficulties are more likely to have problems remembering or developing logical thinking than those with normal hearing. In a study carried out in the United States by Johns Hopkins University, it was found that patients with hearing loss see their cognitive abilities reduced between 30% and 40% faster than those with normal hearing function. So an old deaf man, if he does not correct his deficiency, will lose memory, reflexes and intellectual capacity, much faster than an old man who can hear well.
Hearing loss is like a short circuit. Auditory stimuli are an essential part in the activation of compensation neurons, whose functions increase in old age precisely to alleviate the decrease in the total number of neurons.
Each person carries in their genetic code an aging program and, after a certain age, they begin to lose cells. The body compensates for the loss of neurons by a mechanism called brain plasticity, by which surviving neurons function at higher performance as long as they are properly stimulated. Hence the importance of treating hearing loss in the elderly. 80% of hearing losses can be solved with a hearing aid and another 15% with surgical intervention. Only a small percentage is intractable.
To do this, miResi has prepared a list of the 10 most common symptoms of hearing loss in the elderly and thus be able to stop hearing loss in time.
10 symptoms of hearing loss in the elderly
There are many symptoms and signs of hearing loss in the elderly. Each case and each major is different. However, there are some symptoms that make hearing loss more obvious.
Knowing how to recognize them in time will help and benefit the quality of life of the elderly, in addition to avoiding more serious problems in the long term.
The experts at miResi tell us that the 10 most common symptoms of loss in the elderly are:
- Difficulty understanding words.
One of the main symptoms of older people who begin to suffer from hearing problems is that they do not understand some words well, especially if the tone of voice of the interlocutor is soft. Therefore, they tend to get lost in conversations.
- Increase in voice volume.
By not listening well to others, they also do not listen to themselves. Therefore, they tend to increase their volume of voice.
Many older people who begin to suffer from hearing loss tend to avoid social situations because they have trouble participating. In addition, they also avoid conversations where several people participate, since they find it difficult to keep up with the conversation.
- Trouble hearing high-pitched sounds.
Another very common symptom of hearing loss is difficulty identifying high-pitched or soft sounds. Therefore, the elderly tend to hear the voices of men better than those of women and children.
- Feeling noises in the ears.
The appearance of noise or tinnitus (ringing) in the ears is also a common symptom. They can occur temporarily or permanently, and they disable many seniors' abilities to speak or relate.
By not listening well to themselves, older people often have word articulation problems. This causes even more difficulties when it comes to having a conversation with other people.
- Changes in mood or behavior.
When feeling isolated, it is normal for older people to feel changes in mood as well as experience sadness or depression. Likewise, they may present some irritability or aggressiveness in behavior.
- Possible domestic or street accidents.
Not listening well can lead to small, home-like accidents. For example, if they are cooking and have set a timer over time, they may not hear it and their food will burn.
- Increase the volume of television, radio or mobile.
Another significant symptom of hearing loss is turning up the volume on the television, radio, or any other device that has sound. As they do not hear well, they tend to increase the volume of the devices.
Hearing loss problems lead to problems with understanding. In the same way that they are not able to follow a conversation properly, there can be misunderstandings that end up triggering arguments.
If some of these symptoms are identified in older people, it is very important to go to the doctor or the hearing care professional quickly. Only in this way can this pathology that affects the elderly so much be prevented and treated in an adequate way.
Source:Asociación Nacional de Audioprotesistas