Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Caregivers: Senior Hearing Loss Creates Social Anxiety

Senior women with hands outstretched in anxious confusion due to hearing loss.

Seniors with untreated hearing loss often avoid social settings, because it's exhausting. Trying to concentrate on what people are saying, answering incorrectly, or looking out of touch when the conversation is misunderstood creates huge social anxiety for seniors with untreated hearing loss. Hearing aids can help these social anxieties.

Hearing aids not only provide clearer hearing, allowing better communication and promoting stronger relationships, but studies also show people with hearing aids lead more independent and active lives.

A recent global study done by Hear-the-World called Hearing is Living compared the lifestyle, emotional, and physical health of those with hearing loss who use and don't use hearing aids. The results suggest hearing aids help seniors lead more active an independent lives, and show that people who use hearing aids are actually seen as more in touch than those who do not.

Advances in hearing aid technology, like Speech Guard in Oticon's Chili, help relieve social anxiety in seniors by making listening and responding to conversations in social settings more manageable.

The Hearing is Living study shows people who wear hearing aids are more active and social than those who do not. The study also showed the majority (83 percent) of hearing aid users in the U.S. agreed their quality of life improved with better hearing, while people without hearing aids were more likely to feel insecure and anxious. In part, that's because people with untreated hearing loss tend to withdraw from social situations and other interactions that increase happiness. When the ability to communicate is returned through hearing aids, many times a sense of hearing fitness is returned to seniors and openness to the world is also returned. With facts like these, why are some seniors still holding back from correcting their hearing loss?

Myths about hearing aids keep seniors from facing their fears and living a more engaged and happier life.

Past stereotypes of people with hearing loss and those who wear hearing aids as being old and out of touch means some people shy away from dealing with their hearing loss. The irony is that the stereotypes are not true. People who deal with their hearing loss are shown to feel and act younger and are seen as more in touch. They have less problems understanding conversations, are more relaxed and less anxious in social settings, and because today’s hearing aids are so small, they are rarely spotted.

It is much more conspicuous to people when someone with hearing loss is anxiously denying their condition or asking to have things repeated rather than wearing a hearing aid. Many times seniors with hearing loss will also nod or smile or pretend to understand caregivers in the hopes that they will fool them, but this is never the case. Helping seniors to regain this valuable sense not only improves their lives, but makes communicating with caregivers easier while improving relationships and helping to eliminate unnecessary stress and anxiety.

If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

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