Social isolation and depression can often co-exist with hearing loss. However, the correct hearing aid can help people to become more resilient against depression and improve their social lives.
A new study has shown that untreated hearing loss can have serious emotional and social consequences for older people. The study was conducted by the National Council on the Aging (NCOA) in the USA. It included 2300 participants who all suffered from some level of hearing impairment. All participants were aged over 50.
The results showed that those with untreated hearing loss (i.e. those who did not wear hearing aids) were far more likely to report depression, anxiety and paranoia. These participants were also less likely to participate in organised social activities than those who wore hearing aids.
James Firman, president and CEO of NCOA, says of the study, “This study debunks the myth that untreated hearing loss in older persons is a harmless condition.”
The survey found that 30 per cent of adults with untreated hearing loss reported feelings of sadness or depression which lasted more than two weeks during the previous years, compared to only 22 per cent of adults who wear hearing aids.
Non-users were also almost twice as likely to agree with the statement ‘people get angry with me for no reason’ compared with those who chose to wear hearing aids.
Only 32 per cent of those with untreated hearing loss said that they participated regularly in social activities, compared to a much higher 42 per cent of hearing aid users.
Overall, hearing aid users reported significant improvements in a wide variety of areas, including in their relationships, their sense of independence in their social lives and in their sex lives.
So why aren’t more people using hearing aids? Some responses from non-users included ‘my hearing is not bad enough’ and ‘I can get along without one’. Half of the participants cited the cost, and one in five said ‘it would make me feel old’ or ‘I’m too embarrassed to wear one’.
Dr Firman, who is himself hearing impaired, said of the results, “It is very sad that millions of older people are letting denial or vanity get in the way of treatments that can significantly improve the quality of their lives.”
If hearing loss is affecting your social life, or your day-to-day life, then perhaps it’s time to make an appointment.