Is Hearing Loss A Big Issue For The Elderly?

At present in the UK there are more than 10 million individuals affected by hearing loss, and 6.3 million of those individuals are aged 65 or over. 40% of 50 Year olds suffer with some form of hearing loss, whilst more than 70% of 70 year olds are affected by hearing loss. At present only a small percentage of those suffering from hearing loss are receiving the treatment that they require (approximately 2 million), and it currently takes individuals up to 10 years to address hearing problems, and seek out treatment.

In America approximately 1 third of all individuals between the ages of 65 and 74 suffer with hearing problems, and this increases to half of the elderly population when individuals reach 85 of age. It is also estimated that only 1 out of 5 American individuals are receiving beneficial treatment for hearing loss.

Although hearing problems are more common in older individuals they are not inevitable, and when individuals receive the right treatment the likelihood of hearing problems having a major impact on daily life is greatly decreased.

Common Hearing Problems

There are a number of common hearing problems that could affect the elderly and these include: Tinnitus, Blockage of the ear canal, Middle ear infection, Otosclerosis, Meniere’s Disease, and viruses or other diseases. There are four main types of hearing loss and they are: Sensorineural Hearing Loss, Conductive Hearing Loss, Mixed Hearing Loss, and Single Sided Deafness.

An example of Sensorineural Hearing Loss is Meniere’s Disease. Meniere’s Disease is a rare disorder that affects the inner ear. This is a condition that can affect an individual suddenly and without warning. Meniere’s Disease is a condition that progresses through a number of different stages. At the first stage of the disease, the individual will experience between 6 and 11 attacks of symptoms a year. At the later stage of the disease attacks of symptoms become less frequent, however the individual may be left with balancing problems, and unsteadiness on the feet. Symptoms of this condition include: Tinnitus, Vertigo, Hearing Loss and a feeling of pressure deep inside of the ear. There currently is no specific treatment for Meniere’s Disease, however : changes of diet, some medications, surgery, or treatments used for hearing loss or Tinnitus may also help to relieve the symptoms of the condition.

Otosclerosis is an example of Conductive Hearing Loss. Otosclerosis is a condition of the middle ear, which causes gradual Hearing Loss. The condition affects the bones in the middle ear, and this is because the condition causes abnormal bone growth around the existing bones, causing reduced bone movement, which eventually leads to the fixing and fusing of the bones within the middle ear to the cochlea which leads to severe hearing loss. Symptoms of Otosclerosis include: hearing loss, quiet speech, Tinnitus, Vertigo, and Paracusis (can hear better with lots of background noise).Treatments for this condition include: hearing aids, fluoride tablets, and in some cases surgery may be a viable option.

Mixed Hearing Loss is generally a combination of either Sendorineural Hearing Loss and Conductive Hearing Loss. This means that there may be damage to both the outer, inner and middle ear. An example of this would be a virus or disease which can cause Hearing Loss. Symptoms and treatment can vary depending on the condition .

Single Sided Deafness occurs when an individual experiences hearing loss or a decreased level of hearing in one ear, whilst maintaining normal hearing in the other. The symptoms of Single Sided Deafness can vary from person to person. Some symptoms that an individual may experience include: difficulty determining which direction sound is coming from, and it can also make completing daily tasks quite difficult.

Home Care And Hearing Loss

A Home Care package may be useful for an individual who is experiencing hearing loss. This is because a care worker would be able to visit the individual and support them with a number of different daily living tasks and these can include: all aspects of personal care, medication management, meal preparation and domestic duties. This could be particularly beneficial for someone who is experiencing hearing loss, and this is largely because they may be experiencing other symptoms including loss of balance or unsteadiness on the feet. This can cause a number of problems within daily life, and through the implementation of a home care package the individual would be able to receive all of the help and support that they need.

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