A Cleveland Clinic Global Health System audiologist explains how the benefits of a hearing aid outweigh the perceived challenges.
Hearing loss usually occurs gradually as a person ages. As such it might not be immediately recognized and one might assume that it should be tolerated. However, perceived hearing loss should be treated without delay. After all, the ability to hear is important for individuals to feel confident and connected to the people around them. That’s according to an expert from the Cleveland Clinic global health system. Ahead of the International Day of Older Persons on October 1, her message is that just because a condition is common in older peopleit does not mean that it is acceptable.
Hearing loss and quality of life
The United Nations launched the International Day of Older Persons in 1990. This was done to encourage countries to call attention to and challenge negative stereotypes and misconceptions about older people and aging, and to enable older people to realize their potential.
Cleveland Clinic Audiologist Sarah Sydlowski, AuD, Ph.D., MBA. said,
“There are many benefits to treating hearing loss. Hearing aids can help a person maintain and even enrich their relationships with friends and family members.
“If you have hearing loss, you probably spend a lot of energy staying connected. You need to think about how you position yourself or who you sit next to. You have to concentrate intensely so as not to miss the key elements of a conversation. This extra effort can cause you to skip activities you used to enjoy because they are no longer enjoyable, which in turn could lead to social isolation or even depression.
Hearing loss through the ages
Dr. Sydlowski says that although hearing loss can occur suddenly, it usually happens gradually as a person ages. “At first you might assume people around you are mumbling more. Hearing loss is not like vision loss where it’s obvious things are blurry,” she explains.
In many cases, other people may notice hearing loss before the person because they realize they have to repeat what they have said or notice that they have been misunderstood.
Take care of your hearing
Dr Sydlowski, who is also president of the American Academy of Audiology, encourages individuals to have a hearing test with an audiologist as soon as they or a loved one notices symptoms of hearing loss. Better yet, she says, individuals should have a hearing test at least once after age 50, and every few years thereafter, even if hearing loss has not been noticed.
“It’s easier to acclimate to hearing technology when you start using it earlier,” she says. “The transition to a hearing aid is easier when the hearing loss is milder. It’s less effort for your brain to get used to the different sound quality.
Hearing care barriers
Dr. Sydlowski points out, however, that often people choose not to get help even though they know they have suffered hearing loss. She said barriers that prevent people from taking action can include:
- Stigma: Individuals fear being judged for wearing a hearing aid. “We need to get rid of these stigmas,” says Dr. Sydlowski. “Today people often have an earphone in one or both ears, so hopefully this will reduce the stigma of hearing aids.”
- Discomfort: People may assume that a hearing aid will not be comfortable. But, says Dr. Sydlowski, in practice, comfort is rarely an issue.
- Cost: Hearing aids are not necessarily covered by insurance. However, cost shouldn’t be a barrier, Dr. Sydlowski said, adding that there is technology available at different price points and an audiologist can help find an option that will best suit hearing and finances. of the individual.
- Hoop jump: Hearing screenings aren’t part of most primary care visits, and many primary care physicians don’t realize that hearing loss can be both prevented and treated. A person may need to be referred to an audiologist, and for many people the extra time and expense is enough to keep them at home.
Dr. Sydlowski points out that people can overcome these barriers by recognizing that getting help for hearing loss is not only good for them, but also for their loved ones. If a person is unable to participate fully in a conversation, it could affect the quality of their relationships.
Hearing aids exist for every level of hearing loss
There is a spectrum of hearing loss from mild to profound, and audiologists have many options to help, says Dr. Sydlowski.
“For most people, hearing aids are the best option. They are not designed to restore normal hearing, but rather to help improve your hearing in different environments. Over time, if your hearing decreases, your hearing aid may become less effective and an implantable device like a cochlear implant may be a better option,” she says.
Dr. Sydlowski explains that audiologists measure whether a hearing aid produces the right amplification, and they can measure how well people understand speech with their hearing aid to determine if there’s something better they could use.
She adds that just having a device is not enough – it has to be the right device and programmed correctly.
“You have a pair of ears for a lifetime and they are worth an investment”, concludes Dr. Sydlowski. “Take action, because the benefits far outweigh the perceived challenges.”
About the Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit, multi-specialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision to provide exceptional patient care based on the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. The Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughsincluding coronary bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. US news and world report consistently names the Cleveland Clinic as one of the best hospitals in the nation in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey.
Among Cleveland Clinics 72,500 employees worldwide are more than 5,050 salaried physicians and researchers, and 17,800 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. The Cleveland Clinic is a 6,500-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 22 hospitals, and more than 220 ambulatory care facilities, including Northeast Ohio; southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England.
In 2021, there were 10.2 million total outpatient visits, 304,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 259,000 surgical cases across the Cleveland Clinic health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. follow us on twitter.com/ClevelandClinic. News and resources are available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.