Staying socially connected, especially during the current times we are living in, is integral for health and wellness. But social engagement can be particularly challenging for people who experience hearing loss. Hearing loss is the third most common chronic medical condition that older adults navigate today. One of the major impacts of impaired hearing is strained communication which makes conversations difficult to participate in. This can be a major barrier for social engagement and can hinder one’s ability to stay connected with others. The most useful way to address this and enhance social life is to address hearing loss. Treating hearing loss not only improves hearing, but also strengthens relationships and overall health!
Impact of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss reduces a person’s ability to absorb and process sound which produces various symptoms including:
- Tinnitus: a buzzing, ringing, clicking like noise in one or both ears
- Sounds are muffled or slurred, making it hard to identify individual words
- Increasing the volume on the TV or electronic devices
- Difficulty hearing in environments with background noise, following conversations with multiple people
- Being able to hear more clearly in one ear versus the other
- Needing to move to a quieter area to have a conversation
- Frequently asking others to repeat themselves, speak loudly, and/or slowly
These symptoms can be mild to profound which can take a toll on everyday life. Having conversations can become challenging and exhausting. Hearing loss symptoms force people to use a variety of strategies to hear: reading mouths, pretending to hear, asking the speaker to speak louder etc. This can contribute to miscommunication and a frustrating exchange that requires lots of work. Strained communication and everything that comes with it often leads to social withdrawal. People with untreated hearing loss can avoid conversations, social activities, and totally withdraw from social life. This can impact relationships, contribute to depression, and anxiety.
Benefits of Treatment
The best way to alleviate symptoms, improve hearing health, and enhance social connectivity is by treating hearing loss. Major benefits of treating hearing loss include:
- Enhanced Communication: hearing aids provide significant support with hearing, allowing people to hear and communicate with greater ease. Hearing aids are designed to absorb, amplify, and process sound which increases a person’s hearing capacity. This alleviates hearing loss symptoms which makes effective communication more possible and accessible. Being able to navigate a conversation with greater comfort and control also alleviates the stress and anxiety that is often produced.
- Boosted Confidence: with an increased ability to hear, people are able to be more present during conversations. They no longer have to exert so much effort in trying to hear, ask others to repeat themselves, struggle to follow what is being said etc. Wearing hearing aids drastically changes interactions and conversations are easier to engage in. This can really boost one’s confidence and sense of independence.
- Improved Health: treating hearing loss reduces a person’s risk of developing other associated medical conditions (cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, etc.); in addition to mental health concerns like depression and anxiety. People are able to fully participate in activities that increase physical activity and engagement. Treating hearing loss enhances overall wellness and happiness!
Being able to engage with others easily restores the pleasure and fun that being with others brings to life. Better hearing and feeling more confident encourages social interaction which can strengthen relationships and wellbeing. Staying socially connected with family and friends provides joy and comfort which is incredibly important, especially now!
Addressing Hearing Loss
Fortunately, addressing hearing loss is straightforward and simple. The first step is to schedule an appointment for a hearing test. Conducted by a hearing healthcare specialist, likely an audiologist, hearing tests use a painless process that measures hearing capacity in both ears. This identifies any impairment and the degree of hearing loss you could be experiencing. The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. Similar to most electronics today, hearing aids have experienced significant innovation and are more advanced than ever! There is a wide range of options that have various features and technologies designed to maximize hearing and user experience. Treating hearing loss can truly be life-changing!