Mental Loss vs. Hearing Loss

Q.  Our family has watched my 76-year old father completely change over the past 6-7 years.  He used to be self-assured, friendly, and was very family-centered.  He has become highly defensive, prefers to be alone, and has a hair trigger, even with my mother.  He refuses to discuss it, but could his hearing loss be the cause?

A.  The symptoms you describe could be caused by a wide variety of reasons or conditions, or a mixture of them.  Hearing loss could be among them.

    When it comes to hearing loss, many people are afraid they will be told the reason they cannot hear is due to reduced mental function.  But this is rarely the case.  Most hearing loss occurs because components of the middle and inner ear are not functioning as well as they used to.  Hearing aids help reduce the impact of the ears’ malfunctions so the brain can receive more complete and easier to understand information.

    Find a hearing center that will let your father listen to some hearing aids after a hearing test. Make an appointment and go with your father for support and encouragement.  If hearing loss is one of the reasons for the unwelcome changes you notice in your father, he could immediately be more of his old self with some custom programmed hearing aids.