Age-Related Hearing Loss
Age-related hearing loss, known as presbyacusis, is fairly common among the elderly. It typically affects the higher frequencies of hearing (3000 to 8000 kHz) first. This results in difficulty hearing the consonants of speech when there is background noise, or over the telephone. In Singapore, 27.6% of adults 60 years and above felt that they had hearing loss. 26.7% reported having difficulty following conversations in the presence of background noise (e.g. noise from a TV or radio; traffic noise in the street; people talking at other tables in a crowded restaurant).
One way to assess hearing is the use of the Hearing Handicap Inventory for the Elderly-Screening (HHIE-S). The HHIE-S is a simple series of 10 questions regarding hearing functioning.
Questions from HHIE-S:
1. Does a hearing problem cause you to feel embarrassed when meeting new people?
2. Does a hearing problem cause you to feel frustrated when talking to members of your family?
3. Do you have difficulty hearing when someone speaks in a whisper?
4. Do you feel handicapped by a hearing problem?
5. Does a hearing problem cause you difficulty when visiting friends, relatives or neighbours?
6. Does a hearing problem cause you to attend religious services less often than you would like?
7. Does a hearing problem cause you to have arguments with family members?
8. Does a hearing problem cause you difficulty when listening to TV or radio?
9. Do you feel that any difficulty with your hearing limits or hampers your personal or social life?
10. Does a hearing problem cause you difficulty when in a restaurant with relatives or friends?
* The HHIE-S scores are as follows:
Yes - 4 points, Sometimes - 2 points, or No - 0 points.
Total score and probability of hearing impairment is as follows:
• Total score 0-8: 13%
• Total score 10-24: 50%
• Total score 26-40: 84%
References: The Singapore Family Physician, Vol 38(1)(Supplement) January-March 2012 Management Update on Functional Decline in Older Adults 2012; Weinstein BE. Validity of a screening protocol for identifying elderly people with hearing problems. ASHA. 1986;28:41-45
The article above is meant to provide general information and does not replace a doctor's consultation.
Please see your doctor for professional advice.