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Woman improving her life expectancy by wearing hearing aids and working out is outside on a pier.

Much like graying hair and reading glasses, hearing loss is simply one of those things that most people accept as a part of growing old. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School reveals a link between hearing loss and total health in older adults.

Senior citizens with hearing or vision loss commonly struggle more with cognitive decline, depression, and communication problems. You might already have read about that. But did you know that hearing loss is also connected to shorter life expectancy?

This research shows that people with untreated hearing loss might enjoy “fewer years of life”. And, the likelihood that they will have difficulty undertaking tasks necessary for everyday life nearly doubles if the individual has both hearing and vision impairment. It’s an issue that is both a physical and a quality of life concern.

While this might sound like sad news, there is a silver lining: hearing loss, for older people, can be managed through a variety of methods. Even more importantly, getting tested can help uncover serious health concerns and inspire you to take better care of yourself, which will improve your life expectancy.

What’s The Connection Between Hearing Loss And Weak Health?

Research definitely shows a connection but the specific cause and effect isn’t well known.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other issues including increased risk of stroke and heart disease were seen in older people who were suffering hearing loss.

When you understand what the causes of hearing loss are, these results make more sense. Many instances of tinnitus and hearing loss are tied to heart disease since high blood pressure affects the blood vessels in the ear canal. When the blood vessels are shrunken – which can be due to smoking – the body needs to work harder to push the blood through which leads to high blood pressure. Older adults with heart problems and hearing loss often experience a whooshing sound in their ears, which can be caused by high blood pressure.

Hearing loss has also been linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of cognitive decline. Hearing specialists and other health professionals think there are several reasons why the two are linked: the brain needs to work harder to decipher conversations and words for one, which leaves less mental ability to actually process the words or do anything else. In other circumstances, many people who have hearing loss tend to be less social, frequently as a result of the difficulty they have communicating. There can be a severe affect on a person’s mental health from social separation resulting in depression and anxiety.

How Older Adults Can Treat Hearing Loss

Older adults have a number of choices for managing hearing loss, but as is shown by research, the best thing to do is deal with the problem as soon as possible before it has more extreme repercussions.

Hearing aids are one form of treatment that can work wonders in fighting your hearing loss. There are several different models of hearing aids available, including small, discreet models that are Bluetooth ready. In addition, hearing aid technology has been maximizing basic quality-of-life challenges. For example, they filter out background sound much better than older models and can be connected to cell phones, TVs, and computers to let you hear better during the entertainment.

In order to prevent further hearing loss, older adults can consult with their physician or a nutritionist about positive dietary changes. There are links between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for example, which can often be treated by adding more iron into your diet. Changes to your diet could also positively impact other health conditions, resulting in an overall more healthy lifestyle.

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