Hearing Loss and Seniors – Technologies to Help Seniors Live Independently

Hearing Loss and Seniors – Technologies to Help Seniors Live Independently

Hearing Loss and Seniors – Technologies to Help Seniors Live Independently

We are living longer and hearing loss has become a major issue.  For years rock stars have been in the news as they lose their hearing.  The most prominent are Pete Townsend, Phil Collins, Neil Young, Sting, Eric Clapton and Bono, more.  Approximately 17%, or 36 million, of American adults report some degree of hearing loss.  Interestingly, men are more likely to experience hearing loss than women.

There is a strong relationship between age and reported hearing loss: 18% of American adults 45-64 years old, 30% of adults 65-74 years old, and 47% of adults 75 years old, or older, have a hearing impairment.  Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults.

People with hearing loss may find it hard to converse with friends and family. They may also have trouble understanding a doctor’s advice, responding to warnings, and hearing doorbells and alarms.  Some people may not want to admit they have trouble hearing. Older people who can’t hear well may become depressed or may withdraw from others to avoid feeling frustrated or embarrassed about not understanding what is being said. Sometimes older people are mistakenly thought to be confused, unresponsive, or uncooperative just because they don’t hear well.

Hearing problems that are ignored or untreated can get worse. If a senior has a hearing problem they need to seek professional advice. They can start with their primary care physician, an otolaryngologist, or an audiologist.


Signs of a hearing problem

The questions below will help determine if a person has a hearing problem. Three or more yeses are a likely sign there is a problem and hearing should be checked by a physician.

  • 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 women and children when they talk?
  • Do people complain that I turn the TV volume up too high?
  • Do I hear a ringing, roaring, clicking, buzzing, or hissing sound a lot?
  • Do some sounds seem too loud?

So what do seniors and their families do?

There are many products and more created every day to facilitate independent living for those with hearing difficulties.  Current options include:

Amplified and/or captioned telephones – For those who have certified hearing loss, the state of Florida provides, free of charge, through the Florida Telecommunication Relay, Inc. (FTRI) a CapTel 840 phone which is a state-of-the-art captioned telephone.

TV “Listeners” – These products boost the sound to the individual so they can hear the TV at a higher volume without affecting the volume others in the room use.

Flashing Light/Vibrating Options – There are a wide range of products that use flashing lights and/or vibration to alert seniors to door bells, fire alarms, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.  There are vibrating alarm clocks that alert seniors to an appointment as well as impending weather emergencies.


Until there are options to reduce or reverse hearing loss products can provide seniors independence, enabling them to more securely live on their own.