A lot of people have hearing loss but don’t know it. Or at least they don’t admit it. Many others are diagnosed with hearing loss but do nothing about it. All are in a dangerous situation, especially older sufferers of hearing loss.
When hearing becomes excessively difficult, it can be very easy for a person to decide that not interacting with people is easier than straining to hear conversations and constantly asking people to repeat themselves.
The isolation and loneliness that can result from such a decision are as dangerous to an individual’s well-being as the initial hearing loss itself. In fact, there have been a number of studies showing that hearing loss, when left untreated, can indeed lead to social isolation, a sense of feeling excluded and difficulty taking in and processing information.
All of that combined leads to an increased risk severely damaged well-being:
- 5 percent of people who have no hearing problems show depression, as opposed to 11 percent in those who do have hearing problems.
- People with untreated hearing loss are more likely to report anxiety and paranoia.
- Hearing loss sufferers without hearing aids are less likely to participate in organized social activities compared to those who wear hearing aids.
The good news is that the bleak picture painted above doesn’t have to happen. Hearing aids can make all the difference:
- Seniors wearing hearing aids report better family relationships.
- Family members of such people report improved relations.
- Elderly seniors with hearing aids have shown a reduced degree of depression.
The key to achieving happy results is consistent monitoring of one’s hearing over time. Especially in the case of older adults, hearing loss should be a regular line-item in physician discussions.
When approaching such conversations, physicians need to keep in mind that a lot of older adults will tend to underplay hearing loss and deny any negative effects. That being the case, hearing professionals urge doctors to offer hearing tests regularly and to encourage hearing screenings with significant others and/or family members who have firsthand knowledge of the patient’s hearing struggles.
When hearing loss is diagnosed or suspected, prompt action is key. Studies show that people who seek treatment early can greatly reduce their risk of depression.