Sometimes it feels like your loved one is ignoring you, or maybe their stubbornness and irritability have you on edge. While changes in personality can result from cognitive issues like dementia or depression, they may also stem from simple hearing loss.
It makes sense, too – just think about what life would be like with compromised hearing ability. Not knowing what’s going on around you can be disorientating and confusing, perhaps leading to aloofness or moodiness, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. As a result, it’s important to recognize changes in temperament, personality and mood so that these can be discussed with a physician to determine the underlying causes.
Hearing loss is common in retirement communities, as nearly half of those over the age of 74 have been recognized as hearing impaired, according to the National Institutes of Health. Hearing loss that happens due to the natural aging process is called presbycusis. This can be caused by specific prescription drugs, infection or illness, head injury, or even just genetics. Elderly people may also experience tinnitus, a symptom described as a persistent hissing, clicking, ringing, buzzing, or roaring sound.
It’s often difficult for elderly people to accept or admit they are losing their hearing and agree to see a doctor. It can be embarrassing or frustrating to socially interact with impaired hearing, so seniors often don’t bring up the issue on their own. Instead, it’s up to loved ones and caregivers to recognize signs and symptoms, and to seek help when it’s needed.
There is a need for support beyond just hearing aids for senior citizens who have endured personality changes as a result of hearing loss. Many assisted living centers offer mental and emotional medical treatment in conjunction with physical health resources to aid those whose senses have become compromised.