Does this scenario sound familiar? You're in a noisy restaurant with a group of people. Someone at the table is telling a story that everyone else seems to think is hilarious but you have missed at least every other word and you're not in on the jokes.
Hearing loss is common as you get older; it's estimated that more than 28 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss and that number is projected to be as high as 78 million by the year 2030 with the aging of the Baby Boom generation. Although hearing loss is not inevitable as you age, many of us may have sped up the process by exposing ourselves to a whole lot of noise over the years. Remember those transistor radio earphones? And car radios and stereos blasting away? Now, we're hooked up to iPods. All those experiences – pleasurable as they may be – increase the risk of hearing loss.
But what to do about it? The normal solution is some kind of hearing aid but a new survey published in the Archives of Internal Medicine says that only 14 percent of older adults with hearing loss use hearing aids. A major reason, the survey says, is that hearing aids are often not covered by insurance policies. They can also be difficult to use and many people resign themselves to missing out on things.
The consequences may extend to more than not getting the jokes at dinner. People with untreated hearing loss may be at risk for problems with thinking and memory as well as falls. To learn more about hearing loss, check out the resources on this site published by the National Institutes of Health.