Hearing Loss Prevention in Older Adults: Causes and Things to Avoid

hearing loss prevention

Age-related hearing loss, scientifically known as presbycusis, is a natural part of growing older, and it can be a common health condition among older adults. But don’t worry – this condition can be adequately managed and handled without any decrease in quality of life depending on how it’s addressed.

At Seasons Retirement, we prioritize the health and wellness of our residents, providing for their everyday needs to ensure that they are always happy and comfortable.

We work towards ensuring all our residents, including those with conditions such as presbycusis, can work towards enjoying their day-to-day lives while maintaining the ability to make conversation with others and enjoy hobbies like listening to music and watching movies.

If you’re looking to follow some methods of helping your older loved ones maintain good hearing, we’ll be discussing the details of this condition and how to prevent hearing loss.

What is presbycusis?

Presbycusis is the slow loss of hearing in both ears in older individuals. It is closely linked with aging. Other causes of hearing loss in older adults are prolonged exposure to loud noises, surplus earwax, etc.

There are three types of hearing loss, and they are:

  • Sensorineural: hearing loss occurs in the inner ear
  • Conductive: hearing loss occurs in the outer or middle ear
  • Mixed: a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss

Let’s discuss each of these hearing loss types in detail:

Sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural occurs when ear nerves that transmit sound to the brain become damaged.

Infection, tumours, injuries, excessive noise exposure, and some medications are causes of this hearing loss. Using a hearing aid is the most effective solution, as they’re designed to facilitate the best hearing possible in older adults.

Conductive hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss can occur when sound waves in the outer or middle ear are blocked from reaching the inner ear’s nerves.

Ear infections, excessive ear wax, and ear diseases or traumas affecting the bones in the middle ear, ear canal, and eardrum can cause conductive hearing loss.

However, note that unlike the sensorineural category, which often disturbs both ears, conductive hearing loss may affect only one ear. And it’s important to note that this type of hearing loss can be treated with medical technology and can also be remedied by using hearing aids.

Mixed hearing loss

As the name implies, this hearing loss combines both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.

It’s a condition where a person with sensorineural hearing loss develops an ear infection or wax impaction, consequently affecting their ability to conduct sounds. This type of hearing loss tends to be very specific to the individual, depending on the particular factors causing a reduced range of hearing for them.

It’s best to consult a medical professional to determine the best remedy or treatment for this kind of condition.

What are the symptoms of hearing loss in older adults?

Before we discuss hearing loss prevention, it’s a good idea to understand the signs and symptoms of hearing loss. The following are the most typical signs of presbycusis.

  • Ringing or hissing sounds in one or both ears called Tinnitus
  • Difficulty in following conversations and discussions
  • Trouble with comprehending some consonants
  • Speeches and sounds from external sources coming off as muffles or mumbles
  • Difficulties hearing words when there is background noise
  • Need to increase the volume of the TV and radio to the highest when using them
  • Often telling others to repeat themselves or speak more loudly and slowly
  • Unable to make out women’s and children’s voices
  • Trouble having a conversation over the phone

How is age-related hearing loss diagnosed?

Medical professionals will usually use an otoscope tool to examine the outer and middle ear canal and eardrum to diagnose age-related hearing loss. The examination detects any ear damage or blockage on any ear part due to ear infection, foreign object invasion, or excess ear wax.

An audiologist carries out an audiogram to identify and access problems with hearing and balancing. It involves a test that functions by playing sounds via headphones in both ears separately.

Afterward, your loved one will be asked to identify or respond to the sound they hear. An inability to recognize the sounds will confirm a problem with hearing and suggest the degree of the hearing loss.

At Seasons Retirement, we encourage our residents to visit their physicians regularly and work to ensure they can make it to their appointments on time.

How to prevent hearing loss

While some age-related hearing loss require management and treatment after they’re developed, in most cases, it’s possible to prevent hearing loss and can be kept to manageable levels. The leading cause of hearing loss in older adults is prolonged noise exposure throughout their lives, and it can easily be prevented by making efforts to avoid loud noise levels.

Sound is evaluated in units called decibels. Forty-five decibels are within the range of everyday conversation. At levels beyond 85 decibels, which is usually considered loud noise, sound waves can damage the cells in the inner ear responsible for transmitting sound waves into signals for the brain.

Here are some essential tips on how to noise-related hearing loss-related:

  • Avoid frequent and prolonged exposure to loud noise
  • If exposed to noises above 85 decibels, always put on earmuffs or earplugs
  • Avoid listening to music through earbuds or headphones with high volume

Bear in mind that the treatment and remedy options for hearing loss depend on the cause and type of your loved one’s hearing loss.

While sensorineural hearing loss cannot be cured or treated completely, hearing aids and assisted hearing devices are very effective solutions for enhancing hearing in older adults.

How to improve hearing power in older adults

In cases where hearing loss has already set in, your loved ones don’t have to compromise on their quality of life. With advances in modern technology, there are several solutions available to consider:

1.    Assistive devices

These tools are the technology that converts speech to text and may include smartphone apps, telephone amplifying devices, or closed-circuit systems. They can be used with headphones to isolate hearing better and make it easier for the user to understand what’s being said.

2.    Hearing aids

This is the most common treatment option for age-related hearing loss. Hearing aids rest in or around the ear to focus sound as necessary for the user to hear them properly.

With the help of these devices, your loved one will be able to hear sounds that may have been too high-pitched or tiny to discern previously. Most hearing aids come with valuable features, such as an adjustable volume button.

3.    Cochlear implants

Cochlear implants are a treatment option for some categories of significant hearing loss.

They are small electronic devices that stimulate the nerves to allow for improved hearing. These cochlear implants are done through surgery.

4.    Speech-reading

Your loved one can choose to learn to pick up visual cues (face and mouth movements) to understand conversations and follow the flow of dialogue better. While this option doesn’t directly address hearing issues, it does provide a non-medical alternative to help older adults follow conversations and understand their friends more easily.

5.    Procedures that stop excessive wax from building up in the outer ear

Excessive wax buildup can sometimes lead to a reduced range of hearing, and some older individuals may benefit from medical treatment to alleviate this. If your loved ones have been diagnosed with excessive ear wax buildup, they might consider undergoing a medical procedure to remove the obstruction and immediately improve their hearing.


If your older loved one has age-related hearing loss, it can be treated and remedied in several ways. Their hearing power can be enhanced significantly through effective management and hearing solutions depending on their specific case or condition.

Remember that when considering how to prevent hearing loss, the foremost factor is to try your best to avoid prolonged exposure to very loud noises.

Seasons Retirement strives to provide its residents with an ideal environment to live happy, healthy, and independent lives. It offers significant support to ensure their individual needs are met, even with conditions like hearing loss.

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