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Written by: Jami Tanihana, MA, CCC-A
hearing loss is one of the most common health conditions in adults over 50
years old. About one-third of people in
the United States between the ages of 65 and 75 have some degree of hearing
loss. For those older than 75, that
number is approximately half.
hearing loss can lead to many adverse consequences, such as communication
difficulties, confusion, social isolation, depression, embarrassment, dementia,
and diminished quality of life.
Sometimes older adults are not aware of their hearing loss and might
blame others for mumbling or talking too softly. In other cases, they may simply withdraw from
social situations because it’s easier than trying to hear what is beings said. Some people may try to accommodate the needs
of people with hearing loss by talking louder, increasing the television
volume, or answering for them during a conversation. In fact, older adults wait
an average of five to seven years before seeking professional help. One reason for this long delay relates to the
social stigma of not wanting to be perceived as “old.” However, we can provide loved ones with the
emotional support to take the first step toward having better hearing.
step is to tell hearing professional or doctor about your hearing difficulties.
It is important to share information about your day-to-day life, situations in
which it is difficult to communicate, and your medical history. You may then
receive a hearing test. If a hearing loss is found, the hearing professional
will develop a hearing rehabilitation plan.
This can include hearing aids and hearing assistive technology.
ones have also experienced hearing loss. My grandfather had normal hearing when
he was 82 years old. However the
following year, I noticed he would say “nani?”
(what) more often, and would sometimes give inappropriate responses to
questions. We would laugh and have fun
with the situation, but I knew he needed to have another hearing test. Just one year later, I found his hearing had
decreased to a level where he would benefit from wearing hearing aids. At first, he told me he didn’t need them and
he was fine. My grandma and mom had to help me convince him to at least try
them to see if they would be helpful. He finally agreed and was able to hear
the TV and his family better without having to struggle.
experience working with the hearing impaired in our community, many older
Japanese American males are reluctant to seek help because of personal
pride. Admitting they have hearing loss
is often seen as a sign of aging or weakness, even though they readily accept
wearing glasses if they have a visual impairment. Once they are able to accept
the fact that their loved ones will support them unconditionally through the
process of rehabilitation, these men are more likely seek the help they need
and successfully wear hearing aids.
vary in brand, size, style, technology, and price. The hearing industry is
constantly working to improve hearing aids by making them smaller, more
powerful, and better able to provide more natural sound especially in a noisy
environment. In California, there is a law that allows people to try hearing
aids for 45 days – if they decide not to keep them, for any reason, they are
guaranteed a 100% refund. But it’s not easy to get people to use hearing aids
right away, so here are some simple tips you can keep in mind when engaging
with someone who has hearing loss:
About the Author: Jami Tanihana, MA, CCC-A
Tanihana, MA, CCC-A, has been a licensed audiologist for over 25 years. She has
owned her own private practice, held various management positions in different
corporations, and is currently district manager for Hearing Lab Technology.
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