As spring arrives so do the songbirds, becoming more plentiful and louder in song. Depending on where you live, orioles, goldfinches, song sparrows, woodpeckers and ducks are singing a veritable symphony in trees, bushes and ponds around your home. If you can’t hear them or if their beautiful tones are muffled, perhaps you’re missing out on other important sounds, as well.
Hearing loss can occur very gradually and it affects 48 million Americans, about 20% of the population. About 3 children out of 1,000 experience hearing loss. In addition, it’s one of the most common conditions affecting older adults – approximately one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 experience hearing loss and nearly half of all adults over the age of 75 do, as well.
How can you tell if you are suffering from hearing loss?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I ask people to repeat themselves frequently?
- Do I have trouble hearing in noisy environments like restaurants and parties? Or, have I stopped going out as often as I once did because I just can’t hear conversations as well as I used to and it’s become frustrating and embarrassing?
- Do I think people are mumbling when they talk? Is this affecting my work?
- Do I find myself turning up the volume on the TV or radio more so than before? Or, are family members and friends complaining about how loud the volume is?
- Do I have difficulty hearing phone conversations?
Hearing loss can occur at any age and usually worsens slowly over a long period of time. Here are some short-term fixes that you may want to consider if you suspect that you have hearing loss:
- Enlist the help of your family and friends. If they’re tuned in to your hearing loss, they can help to make things easier for you.
- Ask people to face you when they talk. Not only will you be able to hear them better, but seeing their facial expressions will help to provide context for the conversation.
- Ask people to speak up. Explain to them that they don’t have to shout; they just have to speak a little louder and more clearly enunciate their words.
- Avoid competing sounds/noise. Seek a quieter table at a restaurant or when someone is speaking with you, mute or turn off the TV, radio or music.
- And, finally, schedule a comprehensive hearing test. If hearing loss is diagnosed then a custom treatment plan can be developed.
Hearing Loss and Older Adults