Why Getting a Hearing Test is a Must-Do in your Sixties
Depending on the life stage you’re entering on your next milestone birthday, your personal physician will present a set of tests they want you to undergo to maintain optimal health. Unfortunately, one important test recommendation some neglect to mention is for your hearing. While you should have your hearing tested regardless of age if you’re experiencing any symptoms of hearing problems (e.g., difficulty understanding conversations held in noisy environments), it should definitely be on your schedule once you enter your 60s. Here are just a few reasons why.
By age 65, one out of three people has some form of hearing loss.
You might assume hearing loss won’t become a concern until your 70s or later. However, hearing difficulties can result from more than presbycusis (age-related hearing loss). If you’re a baby boomer, you were probably exposed to a lot of loud sounds throughout your life ― rock concerts, hi-fi stereos turned up to the maximum, military service ― and it’s a safe bet you didn’t wear hearing protection for any of it. So, it’s a good idea to get your hearing tested as soon as you enter your sixth decade.
It’s not too late to address hearing problems.
“If the damage is already done then what’s the point of a test?” Well, even if a hearing test confirms you have some level of hearing loss, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to lose all of your hearing. A hearing care professional can provide suggestions on how to preserve the hearing you have left. Depending on the form of hearing loss diagnosed, they will present treatment options you might not realize can significantly improve your life.
If you’re still working you need to hear this.
Only 48 percent of US citizens with hearing loss between the ages of 18-64 are employed in the public or private sectors. Even if you are well along in your career, once you develop hearing loss you may find yourself unable to continue climbing the corporate ladder, or even getting knocked down a couple of rungs. Ageism tends to rear its ugly head when workers enter their sixties anyway ― if you start making mistakes because you didn’t hear your boss’s directive or missed vital information shared during a conference call, you could unwittingly paint a target on your own back.
Improve your hearing; improve your relationships.
Hearing loss is not only your problem ― it poses a challenge to everyone in your life. Family and friends have to put up with repeating themselves or raising their voices in conversations with you, and with your misunderstandings of what they just said. If unaware of your condition, some might think you are not paying attention, which could cost you significant relationships in your life. Getting your hearing loss diagnosed and treated demonstrates that you do care and are willing to do what it takes to improve your communication and listening skills.
Diagnosing hearing loss could reveal serious health issues.
Hearing loss has been linked other health woes as either a contributing factor or potential outcome. These include the following:
Depression, due to avoiding social involvement and the anxiety/stress untreated hearing loss engenders.
Increased risk of falls, due sometimes to conditions like Meniere’s disease that affect hearing and balance, lack of complete awareness of environment, or due to cognitive overload while straining to hear.
Diabetes, of which hearing loss can be an early warning sign or the disease can cause hearing loss over time.
Dementia, believed due to cognitive overload, isolation and reduced human interaction, or damage to a part of the brain common to both conditions.
Cardiovascular disease, due to lack of adequate blood flow into the cochlea, which can kill the delicate hair cells vital for conducting sound to your brain.
Ignoring hearing loss doesn’t make it go away any more than neglecting to get tested for other health conditions means you won’t contract them. Do the right thing for yourself and those who love you ― talk to your primary care physician about your hearing and request a referral to a hearing care professional for a hearing test.
Carol Meyers, AuD. is an Educational Specialist for Signia. She is responsible for the training and education of staff and hearing care professionals in the U.S. on the company’s products, technology, software, services, and audiology-related topics at industry events, face-to-face meetings, in publications, and through virtual courses. She is responsible for the planning and execution of online courses, including The Expert Series, which reaches a growing number of hearing care professionals each year. Prior to joining Signia (then Siemens Hearing Instruments) in 2007, Dr. Meyers dedicated more than 25 years to clinical practice, during which she attained a comprehensive understanding of diagnostics, hearing aid technology, and how to address the communication needs of individuals. Dr. Meyers holds a doctorate degree in Audiology from Arizona School of Health Sciences and graduate and undergraduate degrees from the University of Nebraska.