A certain amount of hearing loss is a natural part of aging, and most seniors experience it. The medical term is presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss. It may begin as early as in the late teens but gradually become more obvious in later life. It affects men more frequently than women.
Apart from presbycusis, here are some of the other causes of progressive hearing loss:
- Environmental noise such as work-related noise, shooting and explosions from military training, living near freeways or airports, or continual loud music;
- A history of hearing impairment in your family;
- A number of illnesses such as measles, meningitis, and mumps;
- Physical trauma, especially head injuries.
Hearing Loss Prevention
First of all, much hearing loss is preventable. Be sure you are immunized against diseases that cause it, and avoid exposure to excessive noise.
Hearing Aid Devices
A number of devices are available to help the hearing impaired.
- Hearing aids are worn externally and amplify sound. There are various types of hearing aids; you should consult your audiologist as to the best for you, and if possible try them out before you buy.
- Cochlear implants are internal devices that stimulate the cochlear nerve. A tiny computer translates spoken words or other sounds into electronic impulses. However, these are very expensive.
Assistive Devices for the Hearing Impaired
Assistive devices make it easier for hearing impaired or deaf people in their everyday lives. Here are some examples:
- Amplification is available for television and telephones, and of course there are closed-captions for television and films.
- Text messaging is a viable communication option.
- There are telecommunication devices that can receive typed rather than verbal phone messages.
- Flashing lights can signal doorbells, phones, or smoke detectors.
Unfortunately, Original Medicare does not pay for hearing exams or hearing aids. In certain cases, Medicare Part B will pay for diagnostic hearing exams, but only when ordered by your doctor. If your hearing problem is due to a specific injury or disease, Medicare will generally cover the charges. Ask your doctor or hearing specialist for more information about the hearing exams that are covered by Medicare, and the specific conditions for a diagnostic hearing exam.
In conclusion, if you are experiencing hearing impairment due to aging or other factors, don’t despair. Consult with your doctor or a specialist and something can be done to remedy the situation.