What did you say?

Seven years ago, Frozen was the top Disney movie, and “Let it Go” became the song every young girl in the country knew by heart. Ebola broke out in Africa, causing the deaths of 6,000 people world-wide. The winter Olympics were held in Sochi, Russia.

So how long is seven years? That’s the average length of time it takes a person diagnosed with a hearing loss to be fit for their first hearing aids. Some studies put that even longer, around 10 years.

Why do people wait so long before getting help? Is it the potential cost? Is it vanity, thinking they’ll appear old if others notice their hearing aids? Is it that spouses, children and friends all mumble just to be annoying?

Anyway you look at it, delaying help for hearing loss is a terrible loss. Because it is usually gradual, it’s easy to brush off, at least for a time. If noisy environments are problematic for a person with loss, those situations can be avoided, at least some of the time. Others try to control conversations so they can lead a conversation rather than struggle to follow the words of others.

But seniors with untreated hearing loss often show higher rates of depression, anxiety, decreased social and emotional connections, and eventually show cognitive decline. In fact, one study noted that those with moderate loss had twice the cognitive decline of normal hearing adults, and those with severe hearing loss had five times the risk of cognitive decline.

In other words, once you lose the ability to hear sound, your brain loses the ability to make sense of that sound, and eventually cannot regain that function.

Other research has indicated that about 9 percent of the risk of dementia can be attributed to midlife hearing loss, the greatest single dementia risk that can be modified by behavior. That is higher than other risks like smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, social isolation and lack of exercise.

Are you wondering if you really have a hearing loss? Start with this quiz from AgingCare, and if you have 3 yes answers, check with your doctor now! Your brain will not want to wait seven years.

Do I have a problem hearing on the telephone?

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 once?

Do I have to strain to understand a conversation?

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 I have trouble understanding the speech of women and children?

Do people complain that I turn the TV volume up too high?

Do I hear a consistent ringing, roaring, or hissing sound?

Do some sounds seem too loud?

Here are some of many related articles:

Hearing Loss Quiz: 10 Symptoms of Hearing Loss

A Delay in Getting Hearing Aids Can Mean More than Hearing Trouble

Untreated Hearing Loss in Adults

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