4 Ways Hearing Loss Affects Quality of Life and Cognitive Decline

Elderly woman helping elderly man with his hearing aid.

Hearing loss affects Americans of all ages. In fact, over 20%, or 48 million people, have some degree of hearing loss. It’s estimated that four out of five people with hearing problems choose to ignore it. But hearing changes have far-reaching effects. Here are four ways that hearing loss is linked to cognitive decline and people’s quality of life.

Increases falls and injuries

Hearing loss can cause people, especially older adults, to feel unsteady and unbalanced when standing up or walking. People with hearing loss have three times the risk of falling. Often these falls lead to serious injuries, such as broken bones or a concussion. Researchers at the Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis found that hearing aids can improve balance issues in older adults with hearing loss.

Reduces brain function

People with hearing loss often struggle with anxiety and depression, which can impact brain function. Research shows that people with hearing loss often experience a faster decline of cognitive ability than those with normal hearing. The risk increases with the severity of the hearing loss. Cognitive decline can be described as noticeable changes in memory that impact daily life. Early diagnosis of hearing loss and use of hearing aids can help.

Leads to employment changes

Studies show that people with untreated hearing loss could experience lower wages and unemployment. Studies show that people who wear hearing aids have better job performance and a lower risk of income loss.

Impacts relationships

Untreated hearing problems can cause people to withdraw from others. Group conversations and family dinners can be frustrating because individual voices blend making it difficult to follow discussions. People who wear hearing aids are better able to participate in meetings and enjoy family gatherings.

Baseline hearing exam

Hearing changes can occur gradually until suddenly the loss is noticeable. Schedule a hearing exam now to establish a baseline of normal hearing levels. Then it can be used later as a comparison to detect future hearing problems. Here’s why it’s so important.

Hearing benefits

Today, employees can get hearing benefits through their employer-sponsored plans. And retirees can purchase individual and family hearing benefits online. Plans help pay for hearing exams, hearing aids and hearing aid maintenance. Hearing benefits are usually offered as part of a dental plan. Medicare does not cover dental or hearing expenses, so it’s important to have benefits to help pay for the services and materials you need.

Shop Ameritas individual dental and hearing benefits and find a plan that’s right for you.

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