St. Petersburg, Florida Lifestyles Hampered by Hearing Loss

About 35% of St. Petersburg residents aged 65-75 have hearing loss. Forty five percent of adults over 75 have hearing loss. Many of these people would enjoy a better life with better hearing.

Presbycusis, hearing loss associated with age, is a cumulative result of factors such as damage due to the aging process, history of noise exposure, genetic factors, use of ototoxic medications or exposure to ototoxic chemicals accelerating the process. One symptom, an important consideration, is that word understanding can be disproportionately poorer than the ability to hear sound. Word understanding requires the ability to not only hear sound but assign meaning to it. Sounds must be heard, recognized as speech, and then interpreted for meaning.

Other factors to consider when talking about age related hearing loss are the effects on quality of life and links to cognitive decline. An individual’s ability to hear and participate in social events and interact with family members and friends can be a very important aspect of daily life. As this ability becomes more difficult, the tendency to withdraw increases. Isolating oneself due to communication difficulties can lead to increased stress, frustration and possibly anxiety and depression. Quality of life suffers. In some cases an individual may come to rely on others for assistance in daily communication; repeating a conversation or answering for them, depending on the severity of loss. This comes as a loss of independence. Further, when a number of people start noticing the loss and commenting about it, the hearing impaired individual may become defensive and go into denial regarding the loss; not wanting to confront it.

Recent studies have linked hearing loss and decreased cognitive functioning. Hearing loss creates stress; it takes a lot of effort to attend to a conversation that is either not loud enough, not clear enough, or both. As the loss becomes more substantial, the auditory centers of the brain are not stimulated as before. Auditory memory and processing may suffer because of this. A study by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania shows that declines in hearing ability may shrink gray matter in auditory areas of the brain and increase the listening effort necessary for older adults to successfully comprehend speech.

Although many adults in St. Petersburg suffer from hearing loss there are also plenty of hearing healthcare providers in the area.

Call Gardner Audiology at 1-800-277-1182 for a list of hearing healthcare providers near you.

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