Baby boomers have defied many aging stereotypes and are generally active and health conscious people. Studies find that boomers visit health practitioners more frequently in comparison to previous generations. Regardless of healthy choices, aging does bring illness and disease. Some boomers are already suffering from hearing loss.
Since the baby boomer lifestyle is generally active and full, hearing loss is not an easily tolerated disability. Most baby boomers who have hearing problems are now consulting audiologists in order to better their hearing.
The typical aging stereotype has us using canes to walk, bifocals to see, and hearing aids to hear. But is this an inevitable consequence of aging, or is it due to preventable environmental factors? We are told that the only modifiable way to prevent loss of hearing is to keep away from loud noises, but there are several reasons for hearing loss–both environmental and nutritional.
Although hearing loss is associated with aging, there are other influential factors such as family history of hearing loss, repeated exposure to loud noises, and even smoking can affect how well you hear. Of course, medical conditions and some medications can affect hearing as well.
Most hearing loss occurs slowly over time. You may notice that you don’t hear certain high pitch noises, or you may find some sounds seem too loud. Men’s voices may be easier to hear compared to women’s, or you may experience ringing in the ears, or confuse the th and s sounds.
Hearing aids are not a perfect solution – they do have their limitations. They will not restore normal hearing, nor will they eliminate background noise. However, they may be adjusted to lessen background noise. New users to hearing aids often complain that their voices sound funny to themselves and that they are bothered by the relative loud noise from things like refrigerator fans and traffic on the street outside. However, as they adapt to their new hearing aid, their brain begins to filter out background noises to a more comfortable level.