Hearing loss is a big concern for many older adults—and rightly so. Not being able to participate fully in conversations is an all too common problem for seniors. But when hearing loss becomes even more diminished, to the point of losing the ability to speak, life can become isolating and discouraging.
Here’s some hopeful health news then, about an alternative remedy for hearing loss. Researchers at the John Hopkins School of Medicine have recently examined a device called a “cochlear implant.” These implants provide people with serious hearing loss access to sound and spoken language. It’s estimated that there are about 150,000 people at any given time that could benefit from a cochlear implant—and this number is expected to rise as our population continues to age.
The research team reviewed 12 years of experience at John Hopkins School of Medicine with cochlear implants in adults aged 60 and up. They had access to complete data on speech outcomes at the outset and one-year post-implant for 83 patients.
Results showed that the hearing devices consistently improved speech understanding scores, with an average increase of 60% on hearing tests. As for speech, the researchers noted for every increasing year of age after the implant, gain in speech scores was 1.3 percentage points less after adjusting for age at hearing loss onset. Conversely, people with higher pre-implant scores had significantly post-implant speech scores that were 10 percentage points greater than in those with lower pre- implant speech scores.
What does all of this mean? The researchers suggest that older adult cochlear implant candidates who are younger at implantation and have higher speech scores can expect the highest speech understanding scores after a cochlear implant.
If you’re losing your hearing, get your doctor’s advice. A cochlear implant is one option if you are having trouble understanding the speech of others around you and you are finding yourself shying away from making any sort of conversation.
If you’re simply suffering from the slight and gradual hearing loss that’s often associated with growing older, remember that diet can play a role in preserving your hearing. To find out more on this subject, read the article Folic Acid Could Slow Down Your Hearing Loss