Recently, a study conducted by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders in the United States revealed that those living with diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing impairments than those who do not have the disease. This makes it increasingly more important for senior adults to keep their blood sugar under control and to understand how hearing loss and diabetes may be linked.
Research is still being conducted to identify any specific causes for diabetic patients to be at greater risk for hearing loss. However, the current understanding of diabetes points toward possible damage to the blood vessels or nerves in the ear. Just as poorly managed diabetes may cause vision or nerve damage in a person’s hands and feet, it may also be affecting the tiny blood vessels in the ear or the auditory nerve.
Diabetes-related hearing loss tends to be mild in the early stages and slower to progress. This can make it harder for a senior to recognize that he or she is experiencing hearing loss. If you provide home care for an aging parent with diabetes, make sure he or she gets their hearing screened annually. Seniors who experience the following symptoms should also speak with their physician about the possibility of hearing loss:
• Difficulty hearing over background noise
• Frequent requests to have words repeated in conversations
• Increased volume on the television
• Words sound unclear
• Music has a tinny sound
If hearing loss is diagnosed, testing can be conducted to identify the severity of the condition. In seniors with diabetes, one of the first steps will be to make sure their blood sugar is controlled to help prevent further damage. Then, hearing aids and other assistive devices may be used to help improve a person’s ability to hear.
Managing medications and eating a healthy diet are two of the most important things for seniors with diabetes. If your senior loved one needs additional assistance with either, Home Care Assistance can help. As a trusted provider of live-in and part-time home care in Vancouver, we make sure seniors have the support necessary to maintain health and safety in the comfort of their own home. Call a Care Manager today at 778-279-3634 to learn more about care services.