Posted on Monday, February 11, 2013

Effects of Hearing Loss

Depression and hearing loss affect the whole family.

Despite research that shows the importance of hearing, many people downplay their hearing loss and push off seeking treatment. This mistake costs people in ways they don't expect--creating an isolation that leads to greater mental health issues, like depression.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, "In 1999, the National Council on Aging found that older adults who suffered from untreated hearing loss were more likely to report feelings of depression and anxiety than those whose hearing loss had been treated." Often that's because trying to communicate with hearing loss can lead to difficulties with self-expression and a feeling of being outside a group or family activity. Hearing loss is called the invisible disability, not only because it's physically hidden, but because it hinders communication so that individuals suffering with hearing loss go unnoticed or are dismissed.

Delays Seeking Treatment Increase Emotional Fallout
People who have a hearing loss aren't always aware of their condition. They become conditioned to the silence, so they have no idea how much of life and sound they are missing. This inability to recognize hearing loss leads to the isolation that has been shown to increase likelihood of depression, but even when hearing loss is discovered, as Dr. Claudia Dewane, DEd, LCSW points out, "The average delay in seeking help following a diagnosis of hearing loss is five to seven years. Delays in not only recognizing but treating hearing loss can lead individuals to slowly withdrawal from social activities, creating isolation and depression.

Hearing Loss Stereotypes Increase Depression
Dr. Claudia Dewane, DEd, LCSW. says in her article, article in Hearing Loss in Older Adults — Its Effect on Mental Health "Individuals with normal hearing often assume that simply saying something louder or turning up the volume will enable a hard-of-hearing elder to hear. Volume is not necessarily the issue; difficulties with sound and word discrimination may be involved. The need to repeat or experiencing non sequitur responses adds to negative perceptions of older adults with hearing loss as being slow. Internalizing these stereotypes and the resultant negative self-perception certainly contributes to emotional sequelae of hearing loss." The physical consequences of hearing loss continue to be tied to things like unexpected falls, increased likelihood of dementia and Alzheimer's, and emotional difficulties like depression. Treating hearing loss is now thought to be one of the most important things people can do to stay healthy as they age, and just as important as avoiding physical complications, people who treat their hearing loss are shown to be happier.

According to the Hearing is Living study, a global study conducted by Hear-the-World people who wear hearing aids are more active and social and happy than those who do not. 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 and openness to the world is also returned. 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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