Pardon? Hearing loss in seniors

Imagine going through life constantly having to ask people to repeat themselves.
This is the reality faced by thousands of Canadians, particularly seniors, who
suffer from hearing loss.

The statistics are staggering. According to Health Canada, approximately 40
per cent of the population over the age of 75 have a significant hearing problem.
Hearing loss is identified as the third most prevalent chronic disability among
older adults, superseded only by arthritis and hypertension.

Hearing loss associated with aging can be so gradual that those affected by
it often aren’t even aware that a problem exists. Many older people have
no difficulty hearing lower pitched sounds, while sounds with a higher pitch
can go undetected. Others, who hear most sounds distinctly, may be unaware of
the sounds they are missing — attributing their hearing difficulties to other
people not speaking clearly enough. Some basic warning signs to watch for include:
speech and other sounds that seem faint, muffled, distorted, slurred or lack
clarity; experiencing difficulty understanding someone speaking from a distance,
conversing in areas with noisy backgroun or understanding speech that others
find clear.

The effects of undetected and untreated hearing problems can be very serious
and our golden years should not be spent in a communications wasteland, shut
off from what’s happening around us. There’s no reason why more
elderly Canadians can’t continue to enjoy engaging, productive and rewarding
lives but to do so, they have to be able to hear. Detection and treatment is
vital. If you suspect a hearing problem, act right away. An audiologist can
determine the exact nature of a person’s hearing difficulties, assess
the severity of any hearing loss and then recommend treatment. Most importantly,
remember this – it’s never too early to be tested. The onset of adult
hearing loss can occur as early as the third or fourth decade of life.

One in ten Canadians has a speech, language, or hearing disorder. If you suspect
a problem, contact a professional. Check the yellow pages or visit our website to find a speech-language
pathologist or audiologist near you.