Hearing Loss is a Safety Hazard

by Bruce Montgomery Ph.D. March 18, 2016

Hearing Loss is a Safety Hazard

People born with hearing impairments understand the challenges and accommodations they make to remain safe in and out of their homes. If you are unable to hear alarms or other audible signals, then you must adjust and adapt.

Here are five safety hazards associated with hearing loss:

  1. Unable to hear alarms such as smoke or carbon monoxide detectors
  2. Unable to hear warnings, shouts or calls for help from others
  3. Unable to adequately participate in conversations and thereby misinterpreting information or instructions regarding appointments or tasks
  4. Unable to hear noises of children or pets that may be underfoot
  5. Impairing the hearing of others by having to amplify the sound of TV or radios for your convenience

Below is information about “Hearing Loss and Older Adults” from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders at http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/older.aspx.

Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults. One in three people older than 60 and half of those older than 85 have hearing loss. Hearing problems can make it hard to understand and follow a doctor's advice, to respond to warnings, and to hear doorbells and alarms. They can also make it hard to enjoy talking with friends and family. All of this can be frustrating, embarrassing, and even dangerous.

Do you have a hearing problem?

Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer "yes" to three or more of these questions, you could have a hearing problem and may need to have your hearing checked by a doctor.

  • 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 ringing, roaring, or hissing sound a lot?
  • Do some sounds seem too loud?

What should you do?

Hearing problems are serious. The most important thing you can do if you think you have a hearing problem is to go see a doctor. Your doctor may refer you to an otolaryngologist (oh-toe-lair-in-GAH-luh-jist), a doctor who specializes in the ear, nose, and throat. An otolaryngologist will try to find out why you have a hearing loss and offer treatment options. He or she may also refer you to another hearing professional, an audiologist (aw-dee-AH-luh-jist). An audiologist can measure your hearing. Sometimes otolaryngologists and audiologists work together to find the treatment that is right for you.

What treatments and devices can help?

Your treatment will depend on your hearing problem, so some treatments will work better for you than others. One of the most common treatments are hearing aids. Hearing aids are tiny instruments you wear in or behind your ear. They make sounds louder. Things sound different when you wear a hearing aid, but an audiologist can help you get used to it. To find the hearing aid that works best for you, you may have to try more than one. Ask your audiologist whether you can have a trial period with a few different hearing aids. You and your audiologist can work together until you are comfortable.

 *Note: Fall prevention efforts can reduce the risk of falling. Caregivers and older homeowners can become knowledgeable about what needs to be done to make homes as fall-proof as possible. Check here often and search for product ideas that can make you safer in your home!  




Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.
Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.

Author

Dr. Bruce Montgomery is a licensed building contractor in Michigan and Florida. He is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist as designated by the National Association of Home Builders. He has also achieved an Executive Certificate in Home Modification from the University of Southern California. He has a wide ranging educational background, including a Master of Science degree in Entomology, with a Master of Science degree in Forestry and a Ph.D. in educational administration.