Life After 90
The audiology community works with people of all ages, from newborns to grandparents. However, there is one age group that need special consideration: nonagenarians, or people living between the ages of 90 and 99. With advances in medicine, people are living increasingly longer and longer and a new and different demands arise when working with this population. Hearing loss usually increases with age, and can be linked with a myriad of other health issues, such as dementia and diabetes.
This population is especially special and dear to my heart because I just lost my Grandma last fall, just shortly before her 91st birthday. My grandmother lost her hearing as a young adult as a result of illness, and she wore hearing aids for as long as I can remember. She would have gotten to see hearing aid technology advance from the basic analog devices that makes everything louder, to her sophisticated digital hearing aids that she had late in life. My family is very thankful for the many years that we were able to communicate and learn from our wonderful matriarch, and without technology, this wouldn’t have been possible.
I have had the opportunity to work with a few women who became first time hearing aid users in their nineties. These women were both lucky enough that their hearing loss did not create communication difficulties until this stage of life, however with their advanced age, adapting to hearing again had become quite challenging. Our brains forget what certain sounds sound like, and the longer the brain goes the harder it is to introduce these sounds back. A first time hearing aid user in their 90’s is going to need more time to adjust to the change than a 65 or 70 year old. We also have to consider what other health issues a patient in their 90’s may be dealing with, such as poor dexterity, dementia, or vision loss. Luckily, technology has made leaps and bounds in recent years, and there are many types of devices that can help overcome these barriers, such as rechargeable and 24-hour wear hearing aids.
Because of these reasons, it is so important to make sure these nonagenarians are getting the best technology available. A gentleman who purchased new hearing aids at the age of 98 has thanked me over and over for suggesting upgraded technology to him. Now that he has reached his 100th birthday, he still continues to hear better than the other men in their 80’s that he has dinner with. With so many solutions and positives with getting technology, regardless if you’re 45 or 95, don’t wait another moment. If you or a loved one may be experiencing hearing loss or have questions, please contact our office to schedule an appointment.