Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Those with Hearing Loss Have Several Options

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Those with Hearing Loss Have Several Options

Article excerpt

Some problems are easier to overlook than others. If a broken water pipe floods your living room, you'll call for help the minute you start treading water. However, you might be tempted to blame a little puddle on condensation or the dog rather than deal with a small but persistent leak. Many people treat hearing loss like that small leak, ignoring or denying a little problem until it mushrooms into a bigger one.

Do you complain that people mumble or often ask them to repeat themselves? When others enter the room, do they immediately turn down your television? Do you avoid using the telephone?

According to The National Center for Health Statistics, hearing loss is the third- most-common chronic condition in older adults. Technically called presbycusis, aging-related hearing loss sometimes affects certain frequencies, which explains why your grandchildren's higher voices may be harder to hear clearly. (Many wives are convinced that their husbands have experienced hearing loss only in the exact frequencies where their voices fall, but that's a whole separate issue.)

Hearing loss may be one of the most treatable and least treated health conditions for older adults. Experts estimate that the average person waits 10 years or more to seek treatment for hearing loss. While the majority of older adults with hearing loss would benefit by using a hearing aid, most never acquire one.

Why do we neglect our hearing? Maybe because we can get away with it longer. If you can't see well enough to drive or read, chances are you'll get your vision checked. When it comes to hearing, you may compensate by turning up the television, asking people to speak up, and avoiding situations where your hearing loss will be evident. Eventually, you'll probably have to face the problem.

Once you do, you'll need a full audiological evaluation. A quick screening at a health fair or during a routine physical may be better than nothing, but it doesn't take into account all the variables that affect your hearing. …

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