Treating Hearing Loss Helps You Stay Socially Connected

Treating Hearing Loss Helps You Stay Socially Connected

Robert Weissman, Au.D., B.C.A., CCC-AUncategorized

Robert Weissman, Au.D., B.C.A., CCC-A

In recent years, researchers have started to take a serious look at the long-term effects of loneliness. Humans are social animals, and thousands of years ago, loneliness provided an evolutionary advantage by making us anxious when we found ourselves away from the group. Those who failed to have a loneliness response in the absence of the protective power of the group might get picked off by a predator or enemy, or perish from lack of collective effort in finding food or shelter.

Today, being alone might not put us at such risk for violent death or neglect, but the effects are still deadly. Studies are showing that loneliness puts people at much greater risk for heart disease and stroke, immunodeficiencies, and more difficult, longer recoveries. It is closely linked to depression and early death. To put it in statistical terms, loneliness is about as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.

Loneliness and Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is one of the strongest predictors of social isolation and loneliness. As our hearing ability declines, social engagement becomes fatiguing, limiting the amount of time we can engage with friends and family on a meaningful level. It might not even be apparent to us, but we may find ourselves less inclined to go out at all.

We also find ourselves increasingly prone to either pretend to hear or to repeatedly require a person to repeat themself. Studies have shown that this behavior can stress our relationships with those closest to us, and in a British study from 2009 with 1,500 respondents, 44% reported that their relationships with friends, families and spouses had suffered as a result of their hearing loss.

It gets worse and worse, and by almost imperceptible increments we slowly slip out of social life. In this way, untreated hearing loss robs us of our quality of life throughout our time on Earth, and shortens that time in the process.

Treatment Helps

If we could boil down all the reasons to get hearing aids to one main concept, it would be that hearing aids improve quality of life. It’s an unfortunate thing that most people wait an average of seven years from the time they notice hearing loss to the time they seek treatment. When many people finally get their hearing aids, they’ve already undergone changes in their brain functioning, habits, and social lives that require a good bit of recovery time.

Those who treat their hearing loss with hearing aids report greater life satisfaction than those who don’t. Why wait until your hearing loss is unavoidable to get hearing aids? The time you can most benefit from them is always now. You’ll experience a greater ability to spend quality time with your friends and family, and for longer stretches before becoming worn out. You won’t have to go through the painful process of finding yourself lonely, and wondering what you can do about it.

If you’ve been waiting too long to treat your hearing loss, don’t fret. It’s never too late to make the change that can help you enjoy life to the fullest. While hearing aids cannot restore hearing to normal, in many cases they can get hearing ability up to near-normal, to the point where hearing loss does not make conversation overly difficult.

Modern Hearing Aids

Hearing aids today are loaded with DSP (digital signal processing) that reduces feedback, helps alleviate tinnitus, and lets the hearing aid adjust between environments with no required user intervention. Basically, they are both more powerful and easier to use than ever before. They can be so small as to be invisible, and they can integrate with Bluetooth and other technologies to improve your experiences everywhere from automobiles to art museums.

If you’ve been putting off getting hearing aids, it’s likely that you’ll need some time to adjust to them, but rest assured it will be worth it. Nobody is “too old” to enjoy life, and hearing aids are one of the best ways to keep yourself attuned to the world around you so you can be your best by yourself or with friends and family. The human brain is an amazing, elastic machine, and if you’ve been suffering the effects of untreated hearing loss, the sooner you get hearing aids the sooner you can get back on track to living the good life.