Hearing loss is the third most common health condition older adults experience. This public health epidemic impacts over 30 million people who have impaired hearing in one or both ears. Because hearing loss often happens gradually over time, it is often overlooked and undertreated. This means that there are millions of people who are currently dealing with untreated impaired hearing. Hearing loss can make communication challenging which impacts relationships, job performance, and overall health. Strained communication can especially affect engaging with others causing people to withdraw from social activity. However, by effectively treating hearing loss, communication can considerably improve, allowing people to navigate social environments with greater ease!
Impact of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be caused by a variety of factors including environmental exposure to loud noise, existing medical conditions, and genetic history; effecting the auditory system and the way we hear. This results in a reduced ability to hear and process sound which can have a profound impact on one’s life. Hearing loss can lead to:
- Strained Communication: having conversations with others can become difficult when hearing is restricted (especially in environments with background noise). Sounds can seem muffled so hearing distinct words can be tough. People with hearing loss may rely on others to speak loudly, repeat themselves, moving to quieter areas to have conversations, needing others to speak slowly, reading mouths etc. Because conversations can be difficult to follow entirely, there can be greater miscommunication and gaps of information. This impacts the quality of a conversation and requires people to expend more energy which can be tasking and create an unpleasant interaction.
- Social Withdrawal: The work of having a conversation can outweigh the pleasure of spending time with others. It is common to feel stress and anxiety which can lead to an avoidance of social settings, gatherings, activities etc. This kind of isolation results in spending less time with family and friends which creates distance and tension. Withdrawing from your community and support system strains relationships.
Strained communication and social withdrawal can significantly impact one’s overall health. Being less connected to others can take a toll on emotional and mental health. Withdrawing from social environments and quality time with others contributes to stress, loneliness, depression etc. If untreated, hearing loss can worsen and these symptoms will persist which makes moving through daily life more difficult than it needs to be. If you have noticed any changes to your hearing, it is critical to have your hearing tested. Early detection of hearing loss is incredibly beneficial and can help you transition to better hearing more easily.
Benefits of Treatment
Addressing hearing loss can alleviate symptoms and drastically improve the quality of your life. Treatment begins with assessing your hearing by a hearing healthcare specialist. Hearing tests are an easy and noninvasive way to determine any impairment, degree, and type of hearing loss. The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids which feature various technologies that increases one’s ability to hear and supports social connection by:
- Enhancing Communication: hearing aids are innovative electronic devices that are designed to absorb, amplify, and process sound; allowing a person to hear much better in various environments. This alleviates the pressure, anxiety, and stress of constantly trying to hear. With hearing aids people can hear and respond without consistently asking others to speak loudly and/or quietly. This allows people to engage in conversation smoothly which significantly improves communication.
- Boost Confidence: hearing aids support people acclimating seamlessly in the environment they are in without having to rely on others. This device alleviates the often-exhausting burden of constantly compensating for hearing loss. Being able to easily hear can provide more energy in addition to boosting one’s confidence and sense of independence. This supports people participating fully (in conversations, social activities, meetings etc.) and with greater presence.
Treating hearing loss and being able to communicate effectively allows people to stay socially connected. Social connection is critical to living balanced, healthy, and joyous lives. Our relationships with family and friends, hobbies, and spending time with others sustains happiness. This contributes greatly to overall well-being and the longevity, abundance, and quality of one’s life!