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Doctor: Hearing checks important as people age

People with hearing loss tend to withdraw and self-isolate, which can lead to depression and loneliness
October is National Audiology Awareness Monoth
October is National Audiology Awareness Monoth(KMVT)
Published: Oct. 22, 2020 at 12:14 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 30 million Americans have hearing loss and as they age. It is important to pay close attention to their hearing as well as having it checked.

“Probably after 65, probably getting it checked every couple of years, honestly,” said Mary Konneker, an audiologist with St. Luke’s. “Once we’ve determined the hearing loss we want to watch it once a year.”

Noticing hearing loss can be as simple as having to ask others to repeat themselves or speak louder, but some are less obvious to notice.

“Often people with hearing loss will withdraw from social situations, they may not even make plans,” said Dr. Laurel Christensen, the chief audiology officer of GN Hearing. “When there are people around they may be the first to leave the room because it becomes hard to hear when a lot of people are talking.”

And when people with hearing loss withdraw and self-isolate it can lead to depression and loneliness, which is an issue with our senior community. If hearing loss is not addressed, it can even cause issues with the brain leading to dementia or Alzheimer’s because when people isolate and don’t interact with others or even get out and about, the brain isn’t getting activity either.

“All of that is reduced," Konneker said. “So then the brain isn’t moving and learning and doing things. I’ve always described the brain as use it or lose it.”

While there has been a certain stigma around hearing loss and hearing aids, doctors say the loss of social activity is much worse for someone’s well-being.

“I can assure you the hearing aid technology is so good you don’t want to wait," Christensen said. “You want to get help so you can live the life you want to live.”

October is National Audiology Awareness Month. To take a free online hearing test visit resound.com.

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