Hearing Loss in Seniors: A Look at the Most Common Causes

Nurse with senior

As we age, our senses may begin to deteriorate, and one of the most common changes is hearing loss. In fact, hearing loss affects around one in three adults over the age of 65. It can start as early as age 60 and can worsen over time until a person requires a hearing aid or other device.

However, many people do not seek treatment until their hearing loss is so severe that it significantly impacts their daily life. This can decrease enjoyment in life and make it difficult to function normally.

Causes of Hearing Loss

Age-Related Causes

Age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, is a common type of hearing loss that happens as we age and changes occur in the inner ear. At least half of adults over the age of 75 will experience some degree of age-related hearing loss. This type of hearing loss usually affects both ears and is gradual over the years, so many people do not notice it until it becomes advanced.

Symptoms of age-related hearing loss include difficulty hearing higher-pitched noises like a phone or a child’s voice, trouble distinguishing individual voices in a crowd or noisy environment, turning up the volume on the television or radio, and attempting to lip-read when someone is speaking to them.


Health Causes

Other health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can also contribute to hearing loss. Studies show that people with diabetes are twice as likely to experience hearing loss compared to those without. High blood pressure can also damage the inner ear, causing gradual or sudden hearing loss. Poor circulation can harm not only hearing but other senses as well, permanently damaging the vessels in the inner ear if it does not receive enough blood.


Other Causes

Prolonged exposure to loud noise is another common cause of hearing loss. Musicians, construction workers, and anyone exposed to recreational noises like firearms or fireworks may experience damage to the tiny hairs in the inner ear that protect hearing. This damage is usually permanent and cannot be recovered.

Living with Hearing Loss

Living with hearing loss can be challenging. It can affect communication, social interactions, and even safety. It may lead to embarrassment, isolation, and frustration. However, there are ways to cope with hearing loss and improve the quality of life for seniors.

Getting a hearing test as soon as hearing loss is suspected is crucial. Early detection can lead to better outcomes and appropriate interventions, such as hearing aids or other assistive devices. Communicating openly with family and friends about hearing difficulties and requesting simple and clear communication can also be helpful.

Creating an environment that minimizes background noise during conversations can improve communication. This can involve choosing quieter settings, using visual cues like lip-reading, and speaking face-to-face. Additionally, considering a medical alert system, can provide peace of mind for both seniors and their loved ones.

Living with hearing loss may require adjustments and accommodations, but it doesn’t have to diminish one’s quality of life. With awareness, early intervention, and supportive strategies, seniors can continue to engage in meaningful activities, communicate effectively, and maintain a fulfilling lifestyle despite hearing challenges.