As we grow older, our hearing diminishes. It is true that hearing loss can begin at any age, and studies show that in far too many cases hearing loss impacts people earlier than previously thought through chronic and prolonged exposure to environmental noise.
In most cases, however, a gradual and progressive hearing loss starts in midlife and continues to increase as time goes by. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), about one in three U.S. adults between the ages of 65 and 75 have impaired hearing, and the NIDCD estimates that about half of people 75 and older have some degree of hearing loss.
Aging is Inevitable
The human body is a complex machine that wears out as genetic and environmental factors wreak havoc on cells, tissues, and organ functions. That’s why the aging process brings on degenerative changes in the skin, bones, heart, blood vessels, lungs, nerves. Aging also impacts the organs most associated with hearing; the brain and our inner ears. While the aging process is inevitable, it is important to maintain your body’s health so you can keep doing the things you love and have a high quality of life. Maintaining a healthy environment, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and staying engaged in life can slow down the effects of aging.
Healthy Hearing is all in your Mind
It is important to note the importance of the brain in the hearing process. The impact of aging on our ears is directly connected to brain health. The brain’s role, to simplify a rather complex function, is to process information that the ear detects. A strong and alert brain zips through this task quickly and efficiently, while a brain that is compromised by the effects of aging may impact our ability to hear, listen to, and understand a conversation. These effects are heightened when surrounded by excess background noise.
Recent studies supported by NIDCD found that struggling with recognizing words in loud settings is a common concern as people age. New research suggests this may be due to age-related structural changes in the brain.
Whether weakened by genes, free radicals, environmental factors or other undiscovered causes; the aging process affects our ears in much the same way as other organs. We are born with a set of sensory cells that function optimally in our youth, but these structures of the inner ear start to deteriorate over time. This is a slow and gradual process. Exposure to loud noise at a concert venue or in a work setting can impact your hearing health greatly. Most of us don’t notice the change in our hearing capacity until midlife or later, but as hearing loss sets in, our hearing becomes less responsive to the sounds around us.
Growing Older, Hearing Smarter
While there is no cure for hearing loss, looking after your hearing health is an important part of caring for your health as you age. The good news is that there are steps you can take to slow down the onset of hearing loss. Many of the ways to combat aging have to do with sensible lifestyle choices such as maintaining a healthy nutrition rich in vitamins and antioxidants, regular exercise, and a smoke-free environment. To keep your brain supple, boost its power with some mental gymnastics. Try word games such as crossword puzzles and word searches. Card games such as Black Jack and Rumi are fun ways to keep your brain in shape while staying social. Exercise and Yoga are good ways to keep your brain flowing and focused. Being able to hearing clearly will help you stay active both in body and mind, so don’t ignore your hearing health, but treat your hearing to stay young.
Hearing Health Portland
If you are suffering from hearing loss, contact us at Hearing Health Portland to schedule a hearing test. We’ll work with you to find the perfect treatment option. Hearing aids can help you stay sharp and communicate effectively as you age, as well has helping you get out of the house more, and stay active. Our high-tech hearing devices can help keep your communication skills fresh and vibrant throughout your golden years.