Hearing Loss

Untreated Hearing Loss Linked to Isolation and Loneliness in Seniors

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In the United States, more than nine million Americans over the age of 65 suffer from hearing loss. A further 10 million aged 45 – 64 suffer from a form of hearing loss. Yet despite these figures, only 3 out of 5 senior Americans with hearing loss use hearing aids.

Untreated hearing loss can have serious emotional and social repercussions. Multiple studies have explored the links between hearing loss in an aging population in regards to how it affects feelings of isolation, depression and loneliness. One common trend emerges: untreated hearing loss is likely to exacerbate these feelings.

Hearing Loss and Overall Well-being

The National Council on the Aging (NCOA) carried out a study, conducted by the Seniors Research Group, aimed at demonstrating the extent that untreated hearing loss impacts an individual’s well-being, feelings of depression and / or social isolation.

The study surveyed 2,300 hearing impaired adults aged 50 and over. Results indicated that those with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report anxiety, depression or paranoia. Furthermore, they were less likely to engage or participate in organized social activities when compared to seniors who are treating their hearing loss with hearing aids.

Commenting on the results, James Firman, Ed.D., president and CEO of The National Council on the Aging, said “this study debunks the myth that untreated hearing loss in older persons is a harmless condition.”

The survey identified that a significantly higher proportion of the respondents with untreated hearing loss (i.e. are not wearing hearing aids) claimed to have had feelings of depression or sadness that lasted at least two weeks in the previous years. 30% of respondents with more severe, untreated, hearing loss identified these feelings of depression. This compared to only 22% of respondents who were treating their hearing loss with hearing aids.

Due to the fact that social isolation can be a serious problem for some older people, the study also examined social behavior. It identified that those who don’t use hearing aids were more likely to shun social activities. Results identified that 42% of hearing aid users would regularly particularly in social activities, compared to only 32% of those who didn’t use hearing aids.

Benefits of Treatment

Treating hearing loss with hearing aids can have far reaching positive benefits. Not only can treating hearing loss improve relationships at home, it can help to revive a sense of independence. The NCOA’s study found “in virtually every dimension measured, the families of hearing aid users also noted the improvements but were even more likely than the users to report improvements.”

Improvement Area Improvement Reported by Hearing Aid User (%) Improvement Reported by User’s Family (%)
Relations at home 56 66
Feelings about self 50 60
Life overall 48 62
Relations with children, grandchildren 40 52
Mental health 36 39
Self-confidence 39 46
Sense of safety 34 37
Social life 34 41
Relations at work 26 43
Sex life 8 NA

[Source: www.ncoa.org]

Why don’t people get help?

The reasons given why most of the seniors didn’t get help sooner were responses such as “my hearing is not bad enough” or “I can get along without a hearing aid.” Another reason sighted was the cost of hearing aids, or stigmas such as “it would make me feel old,” or “I’m too embarrassed to wear one.”

Hearing Aid technology has advanced and discrete devices are available that can barely be seen and work better than ever before. We know the benefits to your health and happiness will be felt every day as soon as you are ready to start living your life to the fullest. Don’t let your hearing go untreated. Contact us today to find out how we can help treat your hearing loss. Request an appointment or call (212) 786-5741 today.

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