82 ;e Costco Connection NOVEMBER 2015
By Judith L. Kanne
TIRED OF ASKING someone to repeat
every sentence more than once? You are not
alone. The 76. 4 million baby boomers and
other older adults often find themselves in
situations where they cannot follow a conversation because of hearing loss. Hearing loss is
inconvenient, and, according to experts, it has
become a serious public health problem in
need of fixing. That’s because hearing loss has
been strongly associated with a number of
medical, social and reasoning problems,
including falls, dementia and more.
“We have a lot of data correlating hearing
loss with all kinds of problems, ranging from
depression to lower wages,” says Karl Strom,
editor in chief of The Hearing Review (hearing
review.com), who has been reporting on hearing and health care for more than 20 years.
“However, there’s almost no rigid scientific
data or studies on how treatment of hearing
loss via hearing aids definitively solves these
problems.” Experts think that’s about to change.
Hearing and falling down
Dr. Frank Lin, of Johns Hopkins, and Dr.
Luigi Ferrucci, at the National Institute on
nia.nih.gov), analyzed data from more
than 2,000 participants to explore the effects of
hearing loss. One major problem is falling.
Lin and Ferrucci found that people with a
25-decibel hearing loss, classified as mild, were
nearly three times more likely to have a history
In fact, every additional 10 decibels of
hearing loss increased the chances of falling
by 1.4-fold, says a statement from Johns
Hopkins School of Medicine in regard to
their research. This finding held true even
when other factors linked with falling,
including age, sex, race, cardiovascular disease and balance, were taken into account.
When the physicians excluded participants
with moderate to severe hearing loss from
the analysis, the results showed no change.
Dementia and hearing loss
Dementia and hearing represent another
strong association based on recent research.
Perhaps you’ve heard the term “cognitive burden.” If you have diminished hearing, your
brain is working extra hard to take what it
hears (albeit muffled) and make sense out of
the words. In addition, there may be an over-
The Costco Connection
Costco members can get their hearing
checked at Costco Hearing Centers, and find
a variety of high-quality hearing aids, including the latest Kirkland Signature™ models.
for your health
What did you say?
load when the brain is taxed to not only hear,
but to take in sights and sounds around you,
keeping you safe as a pedestrian or driver. The
more the brain has to do at the same time, the
more difficult it is, especially as you age.
Meniere’s Australia (
organization that helps to support people
Should I have
my ears checked?
ACCORDING TO THE National Institute
on Deafness and Other Communication
nidcd.nih.gov), all adults should
take a minute to ask themselves the following questions. If you answer “yes” to
three or more of these questions, it’s a
good idea to be checked by a professional
health care provider.
Do I have a problem hearing on the
telephone or cellphone?
Do I have trouble hearing when
there is noise in the background?
Is it hard for me to follow a
conversation when two or more
people talk at the same time?
Do I have to strain to understand
Do many people I talk to seem to
mumble or not speak clearly?
Do I misunderstand what others are
saying and respond inappropriately?
Do I often ask people to repeat themselves?
Do people complain that I turn the
TV volume up too high?
According to the Association of
Independent Hearing Healthcare Professionals (
aihhp.org), hearing should be
“checked routinely throughout life.” They
suggest the following plan:
Age range How often
18- to 45-year-olds Every 5 years
45- to 59-year-olds Every 3 years
60 years plus Every 2 years
Your health care provider may have
added suggestions based on your individual circumstances.—JLK