“There simply is no pill that can replace human connection. There is no pharmacy that can fill the need for compassionate interaction with others. The answer to human suffering is both within us and between us. -Dr. Joanne Cacciatore
Human beings need more than nutrition and exercise to maintain good health. Much research over recent years has pointed to the fact that connections with other people are a vital component to health. These connections, experts believe, could help us live longer and healthier lives. This is why the relationship between hearing loss and social isolation has become so concerning. Uncovering the why behind it and how to prevent those with hearing loss from becoming socially isolated has become a high priority.
If you or someone you care about lives with hearing loss, you may not be surprised to learn that social isolation is a common side effect of it. But the actual statistics and just how common it is may be surprising. Experts believe that approximately 70% of US seniors with hearing loss become socially isolated. When you consider that 15% of Americans report some difficulty hearing according to the National Institutes of Health, that adds up to millions.
That means millions of people who are at higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, depression, anxiety, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, not to mention death. All of these conditions have been linked to social isolation and loneliness.
While it can feel safer to withdraw from activities when conversations become more difficult and misunderstandings more frequent due to hearing loss, it’s essential to take steps to maintain social connections and stay engaged with others to maintain health and well-being. So, how can you or a loved one stay connected even with hearing loss?
Staying socially connected
If you’re ready to foster your social life with hearing loss, these tips can help:
- Get a hearing evaluation and treatment. If you haven’t already had your hearing tested, this is the best place to start. With a hearing evaluation, a hearing healthcare professional can diagnose any hearing loss and suggest treatment options such as hearing aids. Research suggests that using hearing aids to treat hearing loss can help minimize your risk of social isolation and other conditions associated with untreated hearing loss. According to a survey by the National Council on Aging, those with hearing loss who did not use hearing aids were more likely to be socially isolated and report feelings of sadness than those who did wear hearing aids. Hearing aids can also help you feel more confident in social situations.
- Start the conversation about hearing loss. Hearing loss affects millions of Americans. Chances are you are not the only one in your friends and family living with hearing loss. The conversation about hearing loss is growing and now is the time to be open and honest with those around you about your hearing loss. This helps reduce any anxiety you might feel, and helps others understand what you might need from them in the way of communication.
- Rethink, don’t cancel your plans. There are so many options out there for hearing loss-friendly activities, from a closed caption movie to a concert in the park to a quiet and cozy restaurant. Don’t let fear and discomfort steal your social life. Rethink how you spend time with others.
Take charge of your health by maintaining your social life. Don’t let hearing loss lead you down the path to social isolation and the health risks it brings.
If you’re ready to schedule a hearing evaluation to take charge of your hearing health, contact our office to set up an appointment.