Skip to Content

Actively Aging: Recognizing and preventing hearing loss

Eau Claire (WQOW) – Hearing loss is a common condition that can keep people from living their best life, but it doesn’t have to.

Dr. Rebecca Bredl, an audiologist at Marshfield Clinic, said hearing loss can come at any age.

“Twenty-seven million people 50 and older have hearing loss in the U.S.,” Bredl said. “There are little hair cells or fibers that are inside of your inner ear and those get clipped or damaged overtime and that’s what causes hearing loss.”

Often times, the person with hearing loss, is not the first to discover it.

“I would say most people are in denial, mainly I think because hearing loss is so gradual,” Bredl said.

Regardless of how you find out, the key is treating it as soon as possible because research has shown that there can be a correlation between hearing loss and dementia.

“A lot of it has to do with their cognitive load,” Bredl said. “Like how much work the brain has to do in order to hold a conversation when someone has a hearing loss, so if the brain is focusing more on that conversation, things like memory and thinking are kind of pushed to the side.”

Even if you do have hearing loss, you can still participate in many things including the performing arts, and the Pablo Center at the Confluence actually has hearing assistance devices that can help maximize your experience.

“Per show we check out two to three hearing assist devices,” said Jason Jon Anderson, the executive director at the Pablo Center. “I think it’s really important that people realize that we have this technology available for them to utilize and they too can be integrated and not separated from what’s happening on stage.”

They have two different hearing assistance devices; one fits over the ear, and the other goes around the neck and uses looping technology. Both devices are discreet.

“People don’t really realize that you have it on at all,” Anderson said.

Yet, the devices wouldn’t have to be discreet, because as doctors will tell you, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Bredl said kids typically have their hearing tested when they are younger, but it’s common place for many years to go by before being tested again. She said if you are 21 or older, and for sure if you are 50 or older, you should make an appointment for a checkup.

Bridget Curran

Skip to content