Diagnosing and Treating Hearing Loss in Older Adults

June 2023

According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), roughly one-third of adults aged 65 to 74 have hearing loss — and almost half of those 75 or older have a hard time hearing.

People who have trouble hearing can become depressed and socially isolated. Other people may view the hearing-impaired person as confused, uncooperative, or unresponsive.

Hearing loss can sometimes be made apparent when it becomes harder to understand people when they’re talking — or harder to hear the TV at a volume that works for other people. Other times, they don’t realize their hearing is getting worse. Instead, friends and family might gently point it out.

Here’s how to know if you’re experiencing hearing loss and what you can do about it.

Get tested.

A hearing test is a quick (under an hour) test that measures your ability to hear different frequencies and volumes. This is done by playing different sounds at different volumes through a headset. Sometimes, a hearing test will also assess your ability to understand spoken words. You can visit an audiologist (a healthcare provider who specializes in hearing) for a hearing test. Your local pharmacy may also offer hearing tests.

Get a hearing aid.

There are many different types of hearing aids available today. Many are small and discrete and can fit either in or behind your ear. Some are customizable, such that they will only amplify the frequencies of sound for which you have hearing loss. These advances have made hearing aids more comfortable and easier to use when you’re out in public. An audiologist can fit you with hearing aids, and hearing aids are also available over-the-counter at many pharmacies.

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