Common Hearing Problem with Old Age (Presbyacusis)

Presbyacusis refers mainly to hearing disorders due to “wear and tear” in the auditory system. Findings reveal as we get older gradual deterioration and changes occur in all parts of the auditory system. These include: thickening of the eardrum, arthritic changes of the bony structures in the middle part of the ear, atrophy of the hair cells, degeneration of the eighth nerve and central auditory system.

The onset of presbyacusis is generally insidious. Very often, subjective awareness of the loss occurs when the individual is experiencing increased stress, irritability, and reduced alertness, all of which may result in depression and withdrawal.

When you ask this hearing impaired group what their main complaint is?

They may reply, “I can hear but I don’t understand”.

Can they hear if they want to? The reality is, with a hearing loss, these people can only hear part of the message.

Take for example in the sentence,

I see a fat cat sitting on the mat.

they may have no difficulty hearing the louder low-pitched sounds but some of the highlighted high frequency signals like “t”. “s”, “f” are too soft for them to pick up. Thus, to make sense out of a conversation, they need to do a lot of guesswork as if they are putting bits and pieces together in a puzzle game. This is the reason why these hearing impaired people get frustrated very easily as they are not able to conduct a decent conversation with their family and friends. The hearing difficulty may become more prominent in noisy situations. In some situations, the fatigue and embarrassment resulting from the hearing loss may result in a tendency to avoid the very basic social activities.

The more the hearing impaired understands the impact of their hearing loss, benefits of hearing aid and hearing tactics, the more listening enjoyment they are likely to derive.