Age-related hearing losswhy can't old people hear well? Presbycusis, the name for age-related hearing loss, is more common after age 60 and increases your risk of social isolation if left untreated. 2020 1326 Age-related hearing loss https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/52510-Presbycusis-understanding-age-related-hearing-loss
If a hearing healthcare professional diagnoses you with age-related hearing loss (presbycusis), you’re in good company. Statistics show about one-third of adults between 65 and 70 have some degree of hearing loss, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. About half of all people 75 and older have hearing loss.
Why do we lose hearing as we age?
As we get older, degeneration within the inner ear and along the nerve pathways to the brain can impact our hearing. Most of the time, these changes are related to the health of tiny hair cells in the inner ear that help us hear. These hair cells translate the sound waves our ears collect and translate them into electrical signals for the brain to interpret as recognizable sound. Since hair cells do not regenerate or regrow, any hearing loss we experience as a result of this damage is permanent.
Presbycusis: Hearing loss in old age
Presbycusis is the medical name for age-related hearing loss. It's one of the most common types of sensorineural hearing loss, which means hearing loss related to sensory and nerve cells.
There are also a few other less common types of presbycusis that differ slightly in how and when they affect people, and a person may have multiple forms.
For the most part, this type of hearing loss usually occurs gradually over the span of many years. It usually affects both ears simultaneously (known as "bilateral hearing loss" and causes high-frequency hearing loss, meaning higher-pitched sounds are harder to hear. In speech, this means certain consonants are harder to hear, making words like "that" and "sat" sound the same.
Will I lose my hearing as I get older?
It depends largely on your genetic and medical history, as well as your exposure to noise over the years. A firearm enthusiast is at much higher risk than a gardener, for example. Because of the nature of their work, veterans are at perhaps highest risk for both hearing loss (and tinnitus) as they get older. In general, factors that contribute to presbycusis include:
What are the symptoms of hearing loss in old age?
Because presbycusis occurs gradually, many people don’t realize they’re having difficulty hearing. If you’re older and having hearing problems, here are some symptoms that indicate you may have presbycusis:
How is age-related hearing loss diagnosed?
If any of the symptoms we've listed are affecting your ability to hear, make an appointment to see a hearing healthcare professional as soon as possible for a hearing evaluation. The results of this evaluation will help determine the cause and extent of your hearing loss, as well as the best solution for treating the problem.
Is there a cure for presbycusis?
Like most types of sensorineural hearing loss, there is no cure. Fortunately, though, most cases of sensorineural hearing loss can be treated.
Can I prevent hearing loss associated with old age?
While you can’t do anything about your relatives (much as many of us try), you can take steps to prevent some lifestyle factors linked to hearing loss.
Health risks of untreated hearing loss when you're older
The longer you let your hearing go untreated, the harder it will be to hear better once you do get hearing aids. This is due to auditory deprivation, which is not just bad for your hearing. Research indicates untreated hearing loss among older adults puts people at a greater risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as well other emotional and physical problems. The good news? Hearing aids can delay the onset of these conditions.
They'll also help you live better. Although today’s hearing aid technology won’t restore your hearing to normal, it will greatly improve your quality of life. This quality-of-life boost applies to any older adult with hearing loss, including those in nursing homes and assisted living.
How to get help for presbycusis
The key is to have your hearing evaluated and follow the recommended course of treatment if you are diagnosed with hearing loss. For a list of hearing healthcare professionals in your community, along with verified patient reviews, visit our directory of hearing clinics.