Hearing loss can sneak up on people, especially in old age, and unmitigated hearing loss can lead to emotional frustration and social isolation. When conversations become difficult to understand and the lack of communication makes socializing vexing, some people with hearing loss may become withdrawn.
Detecting hearing loss early can help aid in better treatment and intervention. It can also help provide loved ones with the tools they need to more effectively communicate once hearing loss has occurred. These early warning signs could mean it’s time to check in with an audiologist.
Trouble understanding those around you
If you find yourself constantly complaining about mumbling or difficulty understanding those around you, it may be an early sign of hearing loss. The person experiencing hearing loss may hear that someone is speaking but have difficulty deciphering what’s being said. It can sound like someone is constantly whispering.
This may also lead to constantly asking those around them to repeat themselves. According to the CDC, loved ones themselves may be the first to notice this phenomenon. Talking to loved ones can be the key to realizing there’s a shift in hearing.
Another early sign is ringing ears. More than 50 million Americans, or about 15% of the U.S. population, suffer from tinnitus of varying degrees. Two million of those cases are extreme or debilitating.
Constant ringing could be an important early sign of hearing loss. If you or someone you care for experiences tinnitus for more than a day or two, consider seeing a doctor or specialist. It can also be linked to a number of other underlying health issues.
The birds aren’t chirping
High-pitched sounds may be some of the first to go. If a senior finds they no longer hear birds and other high-pitched noises like car alarms, it could be a sign to have their ears checked. According to Healthy Hearing, hearing aids helped many birders become reinvigorated in their hobby. Bird-watching can also be a senior citizen favorite because it can be done from anywhere, even from inside looking out the window.
No longer engaging
Not being able to understand those around us can be frustrating, but it’s also lonely. If everyone is carrying on a conversation but you can’t understand what’s being said, it’s difficult to weigh in. The frustration can mount especially in crowded places like restaurants, which make it even more difficult to hear.
Without the ability to understand what’s going on around them, seniors may become isolated and disengaged. If someone is repeatedly turning down social engagements or opting out of family gatherings, it may be a good time to ask why.
Listening to the TV or radio way too loud
Another sign of hearing loss is a common one in old age. If you go to your parent’s house or the room of someone you care for and notice the television blaring, this could be a sign of hearing loss. Often when hearing ability decreases, the first solution is to turn up the volume. This can actually lead to more damage from exposure to loud noises. The best solution is to see an audiologist and begin treatment.
Hearing plays a large role in how we socialize with others, and losing that ability can be frustrating and isolating. Early intervention can help improve hearing health and stop worsening hearing loss. Hearing aids and a diagnosis can also go a long way toward improving someone’s mood and social relationships. Once hearing loss is diagnosed, seniors can learn how to treat or adapt to their circumstances to improve their methods of communication with the ones they love.