NOVEMBER 2015 ;e Costco Connection 83
who struggle with dizziness and balance disorders, says, “Hearing loss can use up to 50
percent of [someone’s] energy on communication.” Those without hearing loss might use
about 5 percent. Their experts note that listening with hearing loss and lip reading are
Lin suggests researchers are beginning to
understand “that there are likely mechanistic
pathways through which hearing loss contributes to an accelerated decline in the cognitive and physical functioning of older adults.”
Additionally, other experts also suggest
that people who have a difficult time hearing
and comprehending have a tendency to shy
away from social events, resulting in
increased feelings of loneliness or depression,
which are also seen as connected to the
development of dementia.
What steps can you take?
Probably the most important step you
can take is to get your hearing checked and
see if using hearing aids might help.
“Hearing aids work, and we know that
communication and human contact at all
ages is vital,” says Strom. “Hearing aids could
be a big part of the solution, and Lin’s [and
others’] research should ultimately change
both hearing care and general health care in
some profound ways.”
According to the American Speech-
Language-Hearing Association (
the idea that hearing aids can “cure” your
hearing loss is incorrect. However, there is a
huge benefit in that hearing aids “provide
benefit and improvement in communication.”
For example, “they can improve your hearing
and listening abilities, and they can substan-
tially improve your quality of life,” according
to the website.
A study from Washington University in
St. Louis, last December, included a positive
note on good hearing and balance. Dr.
Timothy E. Hullar, a professor of otolaryngol-
ogy (ears, nose and throat) now at Oregon
Health & Science University, commented on
the results of that small study. As senior
author, he explains, “The participants
appeared to be using the sound information
coming through their hearing aids as auditory
reference points or landmarks to help main-
The National Institutes of Health (nih.
gov) states that hearing aid technology has
improved significantly. Today’s hearing aids
are vastly more sophisticated than those 20
years ago. Nevertheless, only 20 percent of
people who could benefit from hearing aids
actually use them.
That, by itself, is a terrible loss. C
Judith L. Kanne, a registered nurse and independent journalist, lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
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