Did you know that Pennsylvania has the fifth largest older adult population in the nation with 3.4 million individuals?1 As the population continues to age, more people are weighing their options when it comes to downsizing, moving into a senior living community, or choosing to age in the comfort of their homes. According to a 2021 Home and Community Preferences survey by AARP of 2,826 U.S. adults, about 75% of people over the age of 50 expressed that they would like to remain in their current houses and communitiesmeaning aging in place is becoming a more prevalent life choice among older adults.2What to Know About Aging in PlaceIf youre leaning toward spending your years in the place where you feel the most content and safe, then you need to be willing to make some modifications to your home. As you age, your needs change, which means certain features in your home may need to be adjusted. Wider doorways and walkways; accessible bathrooms, kitchens, and bedrooms; ramps and lifts; non-slip floors; and stability aids like grab bars and handrails are some of the most common enhancements that come to mind, but assistive technology can play an important role in aging in place too.Many people choose to age in place because they want to maintain their independence, and assistive technology helps make that possible. From smart home devices that allow you to control the temperature or lights with voice commands to amplified phones and doorbells, there are plenty of high-tech tools that can help you navigate your day-to-day with ease. If youre a senior with hearing loss, Captioned Telephone Relay Service is a free service that allows you to read captions of whats said to you during phone conversations using a uniquely designed CapTel phone.CapTel Makes Phone Conversations Clearer Using CapTel, you can confidently and securely age in place knowing that you can effectively communicate over the phone. Whether youre calling loved ones to catch up, chatting with your doctor, or contacting first responders in an emergency, CapTel is a dependable communication solution for older adults who have hearing loss.Best of all, the CapTel captioning service is free and available in English and Spanish, with captions appearing on the bright, built-in display screen of the CapTel phone just moments after the other caller has spoken. CapTel phones can be purchased directly for $75 through a third-party vendor, or qualified Pennsylvania residents can apply for a CapTel device through the states Telecommunications Device Distribution Program (TDDP)which provides specialized equipment to individuals who find it difficult to use a standard phone. Age in Place Confidently with CapTelTo learn more about CapTel, including how to purchase or apply for an assistive communication device, visit pactrs.com today!Sources:1Master Plan for Older Adults, Pennsylvania Department of Aging 22021 Home and Community Preferences Survey: A National Survey of Adults Age 18-Plus | Joannne Binette & Fanni Farago, AARP Research CapTel is a registered trademark of Ultratec, Inc.
Hearing loss isnt just a sign of getting older. It could be a sign that youre suffering from something much worse than simply old age. Hearing loss has been linked to several health concerns, including Alzheimers and dementia.More and more studies show a conclusive link between untreated hearing loss and cognitive decline. According to a study published in Geriatrics and Gerontology International, older individuals with hearing loss were more likely to experience some degree of memory loss than those with normal hearing.Its estimated that one in three people older than age 60 have hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, is hearing loss that occurs gradually as we grow older. It is one of the most common conditions affecting adults.Presbycusis typically occurs due to changes in:Blood flow in the inner earNerves responsible for hearingHow the brain processes speech and soundCommon signs of hearing loss include:Asking people to repeat what they sayFeeling like others are always mumbling or not speaking clearlyDifficulty hearing and understanding speech in noisy environmentsMissing words or phrases on the telephoneTurning the volume up on the television or radio louder than normalEven though hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic health condition facing older adults, only 20 percent of individuals afflicted seek treatment. On average, hearing aid users wait over 10 years after their initial diagnosis to finally get fit with hearing aids. This lack of treatment can create many detriments to ones health physical and cognitive.Effects Greater Than DecibelsHearing loss and cognitive decline are beginning to go hand-in-hand. People with untreated hearing loss are susceptible to a decreased quality of life. And the impact of hearing loss isnt simply measured in decibels. Unfortunately, it is far greater than that. In addition to the inability to hear, hearing loss is often associated with depression, sadness, and poor social relationships. All of which are key factors contributing to cognitive decline. Hearing loss and cognitive decline are beginning to go hand-in-hand. Hearing loss and cognitive decline are beginning to go hand-in-hand.Individuals with difficulty hearing tend to withdraw from social settings. If you cant hear, you cant participate in ongoing conversations. This alone leads to the following:Anxiety And Depression:Not being able to hear can become stressful, especially for people trying to communicate and be productive, such as in a work setting. If left untreated, hearing loss can have a negative impact on your mental health, thus increasing levels of anxiety and depression. These mental health conditions not only affect your feelings but they also affect the way your brain works and processes information. For example, tasks that involve recalling information become much more difficult.Increased Isolation:Because socializing becomes challenging and stressful, many with untreated hearing loss begin isolating themselves from social settings and other people. This has an adverse effect on your brain as it is no longer exposed to the stimulation that occurs during socialization. Just as your body needs exercise to keep moving and functioning, so does your brain. Conversations and interactions are exercises for your brain. A lack of these activities can impair your memory function and cognitive performance. It can also lead to cerebral atrophy or loss of brain neurons (cells).In addition to the effects listed above, untreated hearing loss also makes it harder to concentrate. When you cant hear or have difficulty hearing someone, you put your focus and attention on trying to understand what they are saying. Although this seems fine, it has lingering cognitive effects. Struggling to understand makes your brain work harder unnecessarily and forces your brain to strain and attempt to fill in the gaps. This depletes your brain of energy. When you spend all your energy trying to hear, your brain isnt working on remembering what is being listened to.When To See An AudiologistIf youre struggling to make out speech or suspect that youre experiencing hearing loss, have an open and honest conversation with your primary care provider. They can assist you in finding a qualified audiologist that will examine your ears and perform a hearing test to determine what type and degree of hearing loss you may have.From there, you can work with your provider to find a treatment option that best fits your needs. Theres no reason to be embarrassed or worry about your appearance with hearing aids. The hearing aid industry has come a long way since the days when they used to wrap around the ears and be a sight for sore eyes. Now, you can discreetly place them inside your ears and even match them to your skin tone to where they are virtually invisible.Treating hearing loss not only gives you back your ability to hear. It gives you back your freedom to communicate with ease. And most of all, it helps to safeguard your brain and keep dementia and Alzheimers at bay.
Just because youve experienced hearing loss, it doesnt mean you have to suffer through life without sounds. Hearing aids have long been used to treat hearing loss, and as the technology has advanced, these devices have become highly sophisticated to produce even better results. At Florida Gulf Coast Hearing Center, we have years of experience fitting patients with hearing aids at our 3 locations in Southwest Florida locations. Hearing aids are not a one-size-fits-all product, but instead the right pair must be chosen for each individual patient. We will evaluate the type and severity of your hearing loss as well as your lifestyle and listening goals to determine which type of hearing aids best suits your needs. Well also schedule return appointments to allow you to give us feedback so we can fine-tune your hearing aids even further. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to learn more about what we can do for you.IS IT TIME FOR A HEARING AID?Answering this question requires you to be completely honest with yourself. Are you having trouble hearing people at a restaurant or in a crowd? Do you have trouble hearing in meetings, at church, work, or school? Are other people telling you that you arent hearing well? These are all signs that it might be time to consider a hearing aid. Visit us for a hearing evaluation today.AM I CHOOSING THE CORRECT HEARING AID, AND AM I GETTING A FAIR PRICE?Discuss the different styles and options available to you with your hearing specialist. You can also comparison shop to try to find the best deal. Just be cautious of devices with extremely low prices. The hearing aids may look the same as others youve considered, but the low price could signal they lack sophistication and features. Dont be fooled by savvy marketing or misleading sales tactics.WHY DO I NEED TWO HEARING AIDS? CAN I JUST BUY ONE TO SAVE MONEY?Hearing affects your balance and direction, so its important for you to have hearing in both ears. Your brain must hear everything in order for you to balance properly and have the best quality of life.WILL HEARING AIDS HELP ME TO CLEARLY UNDERSTAND SPEECH IN A CROWD?For the most part, hearing aids will help with this difficulty. However, everyone has a different experience with this situation. Every new generation of hearing aid helps to tackle this problem a little better by using advanced sound processing technology, instead of just relying on amplification.MY HEARING IS JUST GETTING WORSE. IF I GET HEARING AIDS NOW, WOULDNT I HAVE TO REPLACE THEM LATER?Hearing aids are like little computers, and as such can last many years with the proper care. Dont put off hearing better for fear you may need to replace your devices later. Well teach you the proper maintenance techniques to help your hearing aids stay in good condition.WILL HEARING AIDS HELP ME HEAR THE WAY I USED TO?Unfortunately, hearing aids are not able to help you hear exactly the way you used to. While they do allow you to recover some of the ability to hear and give you a better quality of life, they will not completely fix your hearing.DOES IT MATTER WHERE I GO FOR A HEARING AID?Just as with any other important healthcare products, it does matter where you purchase your hearing aids. Be sure to find a medical professional who is highly trained and has experience you can trust. Dont rely on any dealers who appear to just be out to sell you something. Instead, find a hearing center willing to answer all your questions and help you find the right devices for your needs.I CAN SAVE MONEY GETTING A HEARING AID THROUGH THE INTERNET. IS THIS A GOOD IDEA?Florida Gulf Coast Hearing Center does not recommend buying hearing aids over the internet or buying used devices. For the best performance, hearing aids should be specifically sized and tuned for each individual, and buy purchasing online, you skip this important step. Improper fit can lead to further problems, including trauma to the ear, infection, and worsening ear function.