Listen up: If you have hearing loss, deal with it

Depending on what survey you want to believe, hearing loss in seniors affects at least 1/3 of us around the age of 70 (although judging from my friends’ gradually-increased need to ask me to speak up, I think the number is actually much higher).

And of course, if you believe the dire predictions about those Airpod-infected millennials and Gen Xers walking around listening to booming music day and night, the number of people with hearing loss is going to go way, way up over the next few decades.

Unfortunately, studies also tell us that most people with hearing loss refuse to acknowledge their deficit – “It’s you not talking loud enough; my hearing is fine, thank you” – even though many studies have linked hearing failure with a host of adverse health complications such as depression, isolation, falling, accidents, and dementia.

The big unanswered question about hearing loss, however, has long been whether using hearing aids would somehow lower the risk of these complications, especially dementia, so I’m happy to say that there is increasing good evidence that “Yes, people with hearing loss who use hearing aids will have better health outcomes than people with hearing loss who do not use aids.”

In the most recent study published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society on September 4, researchers looked at health records of over 1000,000 people with hearing loss and concluded that those people with hearing loss who used hearing aids were up to 18% less likely to be diagnosed with dementia, depression or injuries from falling over the next three years.

Bottom line is simple: If you think you have hearing loss, you very likely do, and if you do, you should do something about it.