While hearing loss is a prevalent condition in the US, people who experience early signs of hearing loss tend to wait an average of seven years before seeking treatment. As a result, a growing number of people begin to experience complex problems resulting from untreated hearing loss.
This is mainly because the causes and consequences of the condition are not yet widely understood. Many issues related to hearing loss are related to mental well-being, and some may be at risk of developing mental health problems.
The effect of hearing loss on mental health
Untreated hearing loss tends to make people less willing to attend group social events with friends, family, and coworkers. Challenges related to speech recognition result in people turning down invitations to socialize, which leads to more socially isolated individuals. It also decreases their chances of establishing and sustaining healthy relationships, which can contribute to isolation.
The University of Chicago psychologist John Cacioppo once tracked the effects of loneliness on health. Here are some of the most critical findings from his studies:
- People living alone, young or old alike, are at higher risk of mental health issues.
- When everyone is subject to the same stressful situations, lonely individuals are more depressed than those who don’t see themselves as isolated.
- Lonely people find their sleep quality reduced, which makes it physically as well as psychologically less therapeutic.
How to promote brain and mental health
There are many ways in which we can keep our brain active and stay emotionally healthy:
Keep an active mind. Studies do indicate a lower risk of dementia if your level of education is higher. Research also suggests that if you can maintain a reading or literacy standard of 8th grade throughout your life, it helps keep your mind engaged.
People are encouraged to participate in activities that challenge themselves and make them think cognitively. They enjoy playing board games, dancing, playing a musical instrument, or learning a foreign language. New neural connections within the brain develop with any new activity that forces individuals to learn and increase their skills over time.
Continue to be social. Social interactions help maintain a healthy brain as you age. Maintaining good relationships with friends and relatives, and visiting and socializing with your loved ones is also essential to ward off anxiety, stress, and depression.
Stay physically active. Cardiovascular exercise, in particular, protects the brain. Many physicians prescribe a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise (even walking at a brisk pace) every week for at least five days.
Hearing aids help maintain an active brain.
By treating hearing loss, you are addressing the root issue, which prevents many from following the above advice. Hearing loss can be treated, and the most popular way to do so is to go to a hearing specialist and get fitted with some hearing aids.
Managing your hearing loss will help improve various aspects of your mental health.People who use hearing aids to manage their hearing loss report improved emotional health in their lives. They enjoy better social experiences, a more significant group of friends, better communication with family members, and less depressive symptoms.
Clear hearing will improve self-confidence and encourage you to feel in control of your life. You will also enjoy a much higher quality of life. Evidence is clear that using hearing aids regularly for treating hearing loss decreases depressive symptoms and improves mental health.
The good news is that treatment is available, and help is at hand! Seeking treatment for hearing loss is an important first step to improving communication, relationships, and your overall health and well-being. Contact us today at Upstate Hearing Instruments to set up an appointment!