Hearing loss affects more than just your ears. It is ultimately a communication issue and when it goes unaddressed it can cause rifts between friends, family, co-workers, and even your significant other. Humans are social creatures and socializing not only keeps us from feeling lonely but helps keep our memory sharp, our cognitive functioning active, and increases a sense of belonging happiness, and well-being. This is particularly an issue for many seniors who struggle with hearing loss. 1 in three people over the age of 65 struggle with hearing loss while half over 85 struggle. There have been studies that have shown that treating hearing loss in seniors can extend life expectancy. Let’s explore exactly how hearing loss can help keep you connected.
Hearing loss and its impact on socialization
Hearing loss makes it hard to follow conversations, as well as identify sounds and their location. It is not only difficult but incredibly exhausting to participate in social situations. It is often parts of words or parts of sentences that are lost as hearing loss develops. This forces the brain to strain to fill in the blanks and can leave individuals depleted after what may seem like even a small social interaction. Over time people who live with unaddressed hearing loss often choose to avoid social interactions rather than struggling to hear.
An invisible disability
They often also feel embarrassed as so much can get lost in conversation. All too often people with hearing loss tire of asking others to repeat themselves and simply pretend to understand. For those on the other side of the conversation, this can come across as seeming detached, distracted, disinterested, or just plain rude. Hearing loss is often referred to as an invisible disability because it doesn’t openly show itself. It’s up to the person with the impairment to come forward and let others know how they can communicate to make social interactions easier, but this in itself can be difficult. Many with hearing loss don’t even know they have one. Hearing loss often develops over years, so gradually that people don’t realize they no longer hear birds chirping or the wind rustling in the trees until someone else points out a sound you just can’t hear.
Health risks of social isolation
With forced or poor communication, relationships become strained. Individuals avoid venturing out on their own or joining a club, volunteering, or exploring a hobby. This can lead to chronic depression, anxiety, decreased mobility, lack of confidence, and isolation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that Social isolation significantly increased a person’s risk of premature death due to multiple causes which rival the risk of other severe health risks such as a sedentary lifestyle and smoking. It has also been found to increase the risk of dementia by half, increase the risk of heart disease by 29% and increase the risk of stroke by 32%.
Treating your hearing loss to stay socially connected
While hearing loss is in most cases irreversible it can be treated with hearing aids or cochlear implants, depending on the severity. These amazing electronic devices can be programmed, based on a hearing exam to amplify the specific tones or pitches which you struggle with. This can help you to connect to the people in your life and stay alert and engaged during daily conversations.
Staying virtually connected
The beauty of hearing aids is that they will also help you over the phone and during video chats for work or to stay connected to social groups. Hearing aids can interface with your electronic devices to send audio signals directly to your ears using wireless Bluetooth technology. This eliminates distortion which can happen from other distracting sounds around you. No longer will you feel you need to turn up the television to hear, frustrating others in your household. You’ll feel more inclined to reach out to others over the phone that you haven’t spoken to in a while, rebuilding connections from the past.
Commit to hearing aids
When you commit to wearing hearing aids daily you will feel more connected to the life you love, with clearer hearing. This can make all the difference at work, during a family gathering, at a restaurant with friends, or just relaxing around the house with those closest to you. If you suspect you have a hearing loss, schedule a hearing exam today and start to reconnect now with the people you love now.