Age-related hearing loss, or prebycusis, comes on gradually as a person gets older.
If your parent has prebycusis, she may not even realize that her hearing capability has dropped and that she’s not hearing as well as she once did. Age-related hearing loss usually affects both ears (but if there was a specific injury, it could affect just one ear) and it often runs in families. If you or someone else caring for your elderly parent, like her elder care provider, have noticed that your parent is listening to the TV too loud or constantly asking speakers to repeat themselves (especially women and children), she might have hearing loss.
While hearing loss is common in the elderly, it is often caused by several common factors. Here are some things that could have brought on your parent’s hearing loss or could be making it worse.
If your parent worked in an environment that had consistent loud noises, such as construction or the music industry, and didn’t wear protective devices, she could have sustained permanent damage to her inner ear. Loud noises can also cause temporary hearing loss as well so help protect your parent’s ears by turning down the television or the headphones she uses.
If your parent has excessive wax in the eardrums, it could cause blockage that won’t allow sounds to enter. It could also cause tinnitus which will mask sounds with a constant ringing. The good news is the doctor may be able to provide some fast relief if this is causing problems for your parent. If your elder care provider brings your parent to and from appointments, have her add it to your parent’s list of items to talk to the doctor about.
A Punctured Eardrum
If your parent’s eardrum was punctured, it can cause hearing loss. Eardrums can get punctured by infection or even using a cotton swab incorrectly. If your parent has pain or drainage with the hearing loss, you will want to have her ear examined to make sure this is not the case.
Certain health conditions common in the elderly can cause hearing loss, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or a tumor. If the disease is something that can be managed, you might be able to help your parent reduce the amount of hearing loss she is experiencing or at least prevent it from getting any worse.
On the flip side, some medications may cause hearing loss. Some medicines used to treat serious conditions such as cancer or heart disease may have this side effect. It’s always important to read about the possible side effects of any medication so that it can be discussed with a medical professional if it occurs.
Not all hearing loss-related heredity diseases happen early in life. Some are prone to start to show up as a person ages. If your parent knows her parents suffered from hearing loss, it could mean she will, too.
Hearing loss can often cause a person to withdraw from the world around them as it gets harder and harder to hear. If you or your elder care provider have noticed your parent pulling away while struggling to participate in the hearing world, bringing her to the doctor for a checkup and treatment will help not only her hearing but her emotional health as well.