Hearing loss caused by ageing

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With increasing age, quite a few people experience a decline in their ability to hear. Hearing loss is highly associated with ageing. A large proportion of people with hearing loss are 65 years of age or older. In the US, 43% of the people over 65 years of age suffer from hearing loss, while only 12% of the general population is above 65 years of age. [1] In fact experts opine that people who are 65 and older are more likely than any other age to suffer from hearing loss.


Why should I be aware of this?

  • Hearing loss can affect an ageing person's life in many ways.
  • Hearing loss can lead to loneliness as people might miss out on talks with friends and family. On the telephone, they might find it hard to hear what the caller is saying.
  • Sometimes hearing problems can make the person suffering from it feel embarassed, upset, and lonely.
  • They might withdraw as they cannot follow a conversation at the dinner table or in a restaurant.
  • It is also also easy for friends and family to think they are confused, uncaring, or difficult, when the problem may be that they just cannot hear well.
  • A person suffering from any degree of hearing loss must see a specialist and wear a hearing aid with their recommendation. If they do not address the problem, it will get aggravated and might give rise to emotional and social problems.
  • If you are aware of the symptoms faced by those suffering from hearing loss due to ageing, you can sensitively address the problem.

All about hearing loss caused by ageing

The process of growing old makes it more and more difficult for the hearing nerve to carry the sound signals from the ear to the brain where sound is perceived and understood. The hearing nerve has many many thin nerve fibers with each fiber transmits a different sound frequency.

Ageing typically affects the nerve fibers that transmit high frequency sounds such as s, sh, z, ch, etc. Low frequency sounds like b, d, g, etc. remain relatively unaffected.

The words in any language are combinations of various sounds put together. To a person suffering from hearing loss caused by ageing (called Presbyacusis), the question, Should Shalini go to school on Saturday?' might sound like **ould **alini go to **cool on *aturday?

In the initial stages, when a person is suffering from mild hearing impairment, he resorts to guessing, putting the sentence in context to the conversation going on . He is slightly sucessful too as lip movements of the speaker aid him in guesing the matter being discussed. However, with such visual aids not being avilable while on telephone, the problem is more acute.

However, as hearing loss becomes more and more acute, the guesswork becomes more inacurate.

Social and emotional impact of hearing loss caused by ageing

With people not willing to admit that they are ageing and their hearing loss might be a result of the process of ageing, it leads to a host of other complications apart from just loss of hearing.

  • As verbal communication becomes more and more tedious, a person might begin to lose his confidence in conversational situations and gradually withdraw into a shell.
  • He starts avoiding people.
  • He might even become a target of good natured ridicule by his well-meaning friends and relatives. This can make him emotionally insecure, lonely and withdrawn.
  • The need for a louder volume whie watching television might irritate other family members. Their insensitive handling of the situation might make him stay away from this form of entertainment and increase his loneliness.
  • The hearing loss automatically makes his own speech abnormally loud. He tends to shout since he cannot hear himself well either.
  • Some chronic cases of ignored hearing loss result in unclear or slurred speech because they cannot accurately monitor it. This is the person who should seek professional advice on the feasibility of acquiring a suitable hearing aid.

What can I do?

To figure out if you are suffering from hearing loss check

  • If you have trouble following converstion over the telephone.
  • You are unable to follow a conversation between two or more people.
  • Are unable to hear television which others have no problem following.
  • The background noise makes the voices unclear.
  • It appears to you that others are mumbling.
  • You have difficulty understanding women and children.

To help a person suffering from this

  • Face the person while talking.
  • Talk slowly, enunciate clearly and use gestures wherever possible along with the verbal communication.
  • Do not speak while eating.
  • Repeat yourself if necessary, using different words.
  • Include the hearing-impaired person in your conversation. Do not get irritaed at the speed of the conversation.
  • Talk with the person, not about the person, when you are with others. This helps keep the hearing-impaired person from feeling alone and excluded.


  • About one-third of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing problems.
  • About half the people who are 85 and older have hearing loss.
  • Whether a hearing loss is small (missing certain sounds) or large (being profoundly deaf), it is a serious concern. If left untreated, problems can get worse.
  • Men are more likely to suffer from hearing loss than women. Some 60 percent of people with hearing loss are men. Only about half of the general population is male.[1]


  • Hearing Aids …and the deaf shall hear
  • Hearing loss and ageing


  1. 1.0 1.1 Hearing Loss:A growing problem that affects quality of life