When Your Hearing Fades

By FS Lim

It may start as a simple case of mishearing during a chat. Over time, you begin to notice you are exhausted just from trying to follow longer conversations, often missing out points or punchlines. You get annoyed with your TV or radio because it sounds muted no matter how high you adjust the volume. Soon you get irritated when people speak without facing you because you cannot see their verbal cues and expressions, often leading to relationship tensions. You always feel affronted when someone points out that your tone of voice is too loud and querulous. Then, one day, it dawns on you that you feel ignored by people and somewhat isolated from the world in general. The description above is symptomatic of hearing loss that many of us can experience as we advance in age. Unlike some developed countries in the world, hearing deterioration among seniors ranks low as a medical condition in Malaysia, thus few seek help or treatment at its early onset. It is said that the average age of those who seek help for age-related hearing loss in the more developed countries like the UK and Europe starts at 60 years. However, in Malaysia, most people only consider going for consultation at hearing clinics or hospitals after 70. It is perfectly reasonable why many delay seeking treatment because hearing deterioration is a painless and invisible medical condition. As age-related hearing loss can progressively worsen over time, it is crucial to recognize its early symptoms so that we can intervene to mitigate its adverse effects. Consider if you or your loved ones regularly face the following situations: - You often ask others to repeat themselves because you miss what they say - You tend to ask people to speak louder or request for the TV or radio volume to be increased - Others complain that you speak too loudly - You suffer a lot of misunderstanding with those around you due to miscommunication - You experience ringing in your ears (tinnitus) or have issue balancing Hearing impairment, when left unaddressed, can lead to a compromised quality of life. Compared to their normal-hearing peers, seniors with hearing impairment issues may suffer from cognitive decline, which leads to higher risk of dementia. The loss of social connectivity with our loved ones will affect our emotional state - leading to anxiety and depression. We may start to feel helpless because we inevitably have to depend on them to perform normal everyday tasks such as shopping and banking, then losing our independence in the process. So, how should you manage age-related hearing loss? If your hearing impairment is not due to medical reasons, age-related hearing loss can be addressed with the use of amplification devices like hearing aids. Fortunately, hearing clinics and trained audiologist services have become more accessible in Malaysia than ever before. Do avail yourself to them as soon as you spot early symptoms of hearing impairment. It can go a long way to preserve your quality of life. Follow us on the Amazing Seniors app for more articles on how to seek treatment, choose your hearing aids and even where to find financial support to purchase your hearing devices, if needed.