Treating Hearing Loss Helps You Stay Socially Connected

Treating Hearing Loss Helps You Stay Socially Connected

Imagine that you’re out to dinner with your spouse and a group of friends. You’re excited to see everyone, and after a vigorous round of hellos, you take your seat. You’ve been anticipating this dinner for a few weeks now; these are people you really love but don’t get to see often enough.

As the dinner conversation gets rolling, there’s so much noise from other tables that you can’t really make out what your friends are saying. You catch bits and pieces here and there—“Our oldest had a baby,” “Tesla when I retire,” and did Jim say he was getting a “boat” or his “coat?”

Periodically you ask your spouse to clarify something for you, but they’re starting to seem annoyed that you can’t catch what other people are saying for yourself. After a drink and an appetizer, you’re already feeling pretty exhausted and you give up trying to stay with the conversation.

You and your spouse are the first to leave. You’re tired, not having any fun, and you just want to get out of there. On the way home your spouse mentions they would have liked to stay longer. Then they bring it up—”Maybe you have a hearing problem?”

Has this happened to you? More than once? Depending how long you’ve been living with hearing loss, maybe it was so long ago you can barely remember why you stopped keeping up with your friends.

Hearing Loss and Its Ripple Effects

It’s easy to recognize that hearing loss makes it harder to communicate, but we don’t often realize just how far the ripple effects of ineffective communication can spread. If we can’t really talk with those around us, it’s almost as if we’re not there. That’s part of why it can be so exhausting to have hearing loss in a social situation. We can get anxious about how we’re not really able to listen to our friends and loved ones, and then we start to blame ourselves.

The experience of having hearing loss at a social event has often been described as “feeling lonely in a crowd.” Everyone is there, and we want to reach out and connect, but we can’t. Things are moving too fast and we can’t keep up for long. Our brains struggle to piece together what’s being said from bits and pieces of understood speech, and by the time we figure out what has just been said, the conversation has moved forward and we’ve lost the opportunity to respond. We might end up thinking more about hearing loss itself than anything that’s happening around us!

Some of the most common outcomes of untreated hearing loss are loneliness, depression, and social isolation. When we feel unconnected to others, we can start to feel depressed, like our lives have no meaning. There is a kind of vicious cycle between depression and social isolation. When we’re depressed, it’s usually not the case that we want to seek companionship. But it can be the very isolation that we’re experiencing that contributes most to our depression.

Our brains are built for interaction. One human being connecting with another lights up both of their brains in a flurry of activity. A lack of interaction is thought to be one of the main reasons for the link between hearing loss and earlier onset of dementia. Prolonged social isolation is bad for our brains, and it is an all-too-common outcome of untreated hearing loss.

Hearing Aids Can Help

It doesn’t have to be this way! A good set of well-fitted hearing aids will help you stay connected to those you care about. Hearing aids have been shown to help us improve our relationships with spouses, friends and loved ones.

When asked after one year of wearing them, 95% of people say they’re glad they got hearing aids. It’s not just our social connections they help with, but multiple areas of our lives. They help us to feel more confident, optimistic, and independent. Those with hearing aids even tend to engage in more physical activity than those with untreated hearing loss, and are less susceptible to accidental injury.

Our social bonds are among the most precious things we have in life. If you or a loved one may have hearing loss, make an appointment for a hearing test at UpState Hearing today and find out what hearing aids can do to help you stay active, engaged, and socially connected!

Kenneth H. Wood, BC-HIS

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With so many myths and misinformation about hearing loss and hearing care, it’s often the unknowns or confusion that holds us back from making the right decisions.

That’s why we have a hearing care expert available to help.

If you have a question, or would like to speak to a professional privately about the challenges that you may be facing, then simply request a callback and we’ll call you for a friendly no-obligation conversation.