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So…What is a Baby Boomer?
If you were born during the Post–World War II baby boom between 1946 and 1964 you are part of the baby boom generation. More babies were born in 1946 than any previous year in the history of the United States. 3.4 million babies took their first breath in that year…a 20 percent increase over 1945. This was the beginning of the “baby boom.” Another 3.8 million babies were added in 1947; 3.9 million in 1952; and more than 4 million new babies were added each year from 1954 through 1964. By then, there were nearly 78 million “baby boomers” in the United States and they made up almost 40 percent of the nation’s population chong qi zhang peng.
How Boomers Differ From Previous Generations
The World War II generation often lived in the same house until they either died or were moved to a nursing home. Not so with the Baby Boom Population…they continue to explore new lifestyles in their retirement years used commercial inflatables for sale, as technological and medical advancements have provided them with many more alternatives in how and where they can spend their time. And time is on their side. A large percentage of the 78 million Americans who are classified as baby boomers are going to live anywhere from 10 to 25 years longer than their parents did. Those who reach retirement age now are often physically healthy enough to run marathons, build houses and start new businesses. All isn’t rosy though…read on…
Seeds of a Growing Problem
The population of the U.S. is getting older. According to the Administration on Aging, the aging ‘baby boom’ generation will cause a dramatic increase in the population through 2030. In 2009, people over 65 represented 12.9% of the population, but by 2030, they will represent 19.3%. The population over 65 is expected to double between 2008 and 2030 to a projected 72.1 million.
Why should we be concerned with aging Boomers? Because Hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition among older adults! According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 36 million Americans have impaired hearing, including 17% of our adult population. The occurrence of hearing loss increases with age. Approximately one third of Americans between 65 and 74 and nearly half of those over 75 have hearing and communication problems.
Boomers and Age-Related Hearing Loss
Baby Boomers are prone to develop Age-related hearing loss (ARHL)…a typically slow, progressive hearing loss that affects both ears equally. Due to the slow progression, adults with ARHL do not readily acknowledge their hearing loss, because they accept it as normal aging. This bad assumption often leads to undesirable results.
ARHL typically begins as high frequency hearing loss and later affects the lower frequencies. Paradoxically, several research studies indicate that while men develop high frequency hearing loss with age, women tend to have more problems with lower frequencies (250-1000Hz), possibly due to biologic factors such as hormones, or cardiovascular disease events (CVD) such as hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. While low-frequency hearing loss is related to CVD events in both genders, women tend to show this relationship more than men on audiograms (Figure, bottom).
Although precise causes for this pattern require more research, the bottom line is that women with ARHL have more problems with low-pitched vowel sounds (o, a, ah, i, e), and men have more problems with high-pitched consonant sounds (d, t, sh, s, f, th). Since the softer high-pitched consonant sounds carry the meaning of speech, those (especially men) with pronounced high-frequency hearing loss often have problems understanding what is being said, especially in an environment with background noise.
Consequences of Untreated ARHL
Hearing loss can lead to or enhance the effects of serious medical and emotional conditions, including cognitive disorders (Dementia and Alzheimer disease) and depression, according to a recent study from the National Institute of Aging.
Untreated hearing loss also leads to serious negative lifestyle changes, which often effect family, friends, and others. These changes include threats to personal safety; irritability; pessimism; anger; fatigue; tension; stress; isolation; withdrawal; and diminished overall health.
Summary and Treatment
Age Related Hearing loss…
- is a natural and progressive part of aging
- can be augmented by genetics …exposure to noise …chronic disease …ototoxicity
- is the third most common chronic condition in older Americans after hypertension and arthritis
- is strongly associated with functional decline and depression.
- can slowly destroy the quality of your life
- can be moderated by an early and accurate diagnosis and treatment …including:
What this means for Boomers
As a baby boomer,you will have more and healthier years to enjoy your retirement activities…don’t let a treatable condition like hearing loss put the brakes on your best years.
About the Author
Dr. Li-Korotky is a highly acclaimed research scientist and clinician. The Doctor is the President of Pacific Northwest Audiology (www.pnwaudiology.com) in Bend OR.