Hearing loss in the elderly

Age related hearing loss (presbycusis) is common, affecting at least one in three older adults. We identify three types of hearing loss: conductive, where sound is blocked in the middle and outer ear; sensorineural, where the nerve receptors in the ear, which pickup sound, are damaged or worn down,; and a mixed pattern of both.

Generally both ears are affected. Hearing loss also affects family and friends, who often notice it first!  It can be isolating and even though there is no need for it be so, embarrassing for some people. Unfortunately, it tends to get slowly worse with time. It can affect anyone - those with it in the family or who have had past exposure to loud noise are at greater risk.

Step one is to discuss the problem with your doctor to see what can be easily fixed. Wax build up in the outer ear or congestion in the middle ear can be easily identified and treated. Most cases need audiology (hearing) testing - Pensioners and Veterans with a gold card can get this done for free with GP referral.

Hearing aids are not what they used to be! They are smaller, can plug into the TV or phone with Wi-Fi, can be directional, and are programmable for many different situations (e.g background noise).  An audiologist can match your budget with the right hearing aid and health insurance may chip in.