Author: Jane Collins Category: Health, Hearing

If you are struggling to hear conversations you’re not alone, half of us over 50 have difficulty hearing

Pardon?  Signs you’re having trouble hearing

  • You have the TV or radio blasting out, making it uncomfortably loud for other people
  • You find yourself increasing paying attention to people’s lip movements to help you decipher what they are saying 
  • Unconsciously, when our hearing is going we begin to read lips and look for nonverbal cues
  • You find it difficult to hear dialogue at the cinema or theatre
  • Telephone conversations are hard work because you struggle to hear the person on the other end
  • You avoid situations you used to enjoy because of your impaired hearing
  • You find it hard to hear what others are saying if there is background noise

Christmas is one long feast of the senses: Yet a staggering half of us Brits over the age of 50 have difficulty hearing and struggle silently through the celebrations and family reunions.  If this sounds like you, or someone you know, here’s what could help.

It’s a sociable old time Christmas.  The run up to the big day tends to be one great big long round of eating, drinking and catching up and then there’s the inevitable family get togethers with the in jokes that makes the festive season what it is.  And we kind of take it completely for granted that it will always be like this, don’t we?

But what if you start straining to hear those corny cracker jokes or when someone is calling you?  What happens if you start struggling to hear the conversations going on around you? Not only is this frustrating for you (and those around you being asked to repeat things endlessly) it can also make you feel disconnected from what is going on  – at the very time of the year which is all about reconnecting.

Obviously your ears going is not a problem that is isolated to Christmas (and many will joke that men practice a particular brand of selective hearing all year round…) but crucially this could be the time that highlights you are struggling with yours.  And as it is usually a very gradual process it’s easy not to notice at all initially but if you are around 50 (the age most age-related hearing loss kicks in according to the charity Action on Hearing Loss) it can help to be aware of any changes because the sooner you do something about it the better.

Nobody is saying impaired hearing is an inevitable side effect of ageing but it is a contributory factor.  To put things in context, there are more than 11 million people in the UK who suffer with hearing loss and 40% of them are over 50.  By 2035 this number is set to increase to 15.6 million – that is one in five of the population – so it’s clearly an issue that needs discussing.  Not least because if it is happening to you it impacts on your relationships, your confidence and self-esteem: you probably won’t be shocked to find that those suffering from muffled hearing talk about feeling depressed and socially isolated.  In a survey by Specsavers Audiologists, of those who said that they had trouble hearing conversations around the dinner table, nearly half said this made them feel old or like they were missing out on the fun.

There’s a limit to what you can do yourself to improve or safeguard your hearing (some experts say a diet with plenty of magnesium-rich foods is beneficial but this is largely speculative) so what can you do if you are concerned for either yourself or a friend or relative?  Nick Taylor, audiologist and head of professional advancement at Specsavers Audiologists says, ‘Hearing loss is something that happens gradually, so more often than not people wait until it is severe before finding help.  It is important to look out for the signs – like having the TV turned up uncomfortably loud for others in the room – and to have regular hearing checks so you can be treated as early as possible.  We recommend anyone over 55 has theirs checked once a year.’

For more information or to book a free hearing test online visit Specsavers Audiologists

Further information Action on Hearing Loss and Hearing Link