Hearing Loss in Aging Adults

Hearing loss is possibly the most common issue related to aging.

One in 3 adults over age 65 has hearing loss. It is potentially the most common problem associated with aging. Older people who can’t hear well become depressed, or they may withdraw from others because they feel frustrated or embarrassed about not understanding what is being said. Sometimes, older people are mistakenly thought to be confused, unresponsive, or uncooperative because they do not hear well.

Hearing problems that are ignored or untreated can get worse. If you have a hearing problem, see your doctor. Hearing aids, special training, certain medicines, and surgery are some of the treatments that can help.

There may be many causes for age-related hearing loss. It most most often occurs because of changes in the following locations:

  • Within the inner ear (most common)
  • Within the middle ear
  • Along the nerve pathways to the brain

Other things that affect age-related hearing loss:

  • Continuous exposure to loud noise (such as music or work related noise)
  • Loss of hair cells (sensory receptors in the inner ear)
  • Inherited factors
  • Aging
  • Various health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes
  • Side effects of some medications, such as aspirin and certain antibiotics

Treatment options for age-related hearing loss may include the following:

  • Hearing aid(s)
  • Assistive devices, such as telephone amplifiers or technology that converts speech to text
  • Training in speech-reading (to use visual cues to determine what is being said)
  • Techniques for preventing excess wax in the outer ear

About the Author : Bethany Burnett

NOTE: This person is a past employee or intern of the STAR Center. Their name and authorship is preserved for posterity.

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