Staying socially active and engaged with friends and family is important as people age, and hearing well is crucial to making that happen. Research conducted by Hidden Hearing revealed that hearing loss is associated not only with a range of physical problems but also psychological and emotional problems such as social isolation and feelings of embarrassment.
The research, which explored the psychological impact of hearing loss, revealed that 37% of respondents said they felt frustrated when they realised they had a problem with their hearing, one in three (33%) of respondents said that they felt embarrassed, one in five (19%) said they felt old and one in five (19%) said they felt isolated.
When a person cannot hear well, activities they used to enjoy – meals with friends and nights out at the theatre – become challenges. People can become frustrated, skip social opportunities and potentially become socially isolated, which increases the risk of mental health issues. 44% of respondents said that their hearing loss made it difficult to socialise in public places, with one in four (26%) saying that their hearing loss was affecting their home life. By contrast, people who seek treatment for hearing loss report significant improvements in relationships, self-esteem, overall quality of life, mental health and safety.
Untreated hearing loss can have a devastating impact on the social, professional and family interactions of people with hearing impairments. Studies conducted by Hidden Hearing show that 28% of people leave it more than five years to get their hearing checked and treated, which often means they may miss out on important life events with friends and family as their hearing deteriorates.
Conversely, research by the National Council of the Ageing on more than 2,000 people with hearing loss demonstrated that hearing aids clearly are associated with impressive improvements in the social, emotional, psychological, and physical well-being of people with hearing loss. Hearing loss treatment was shown to improve:
- Earning power
- Communication in relationships
- Intimacy and warmth in family relationships
- Ease in communication
- Emotional stability
- Sense of control over life events
- Perception of mental functioning
- Physical health
- Group social participation
And just as importantly hearing loss treatment was shown to reduce:
- Discrimination toward the person with the hearing loss
- Hearing loss compensation behaviors (i.e. pretending you hear)
- Anger and frustration in relationships
- Depression and depressive symptoms
- Feelings of paranoia
- Social phobias
If you are one of those people with a mild, moderate or severe hearing loss, who is sitting on the fence, consider all the benefits of hearing aids described above and contact your local Hidden Hearing branch to arrange a free hearing test. Freephone 1800 370 000 or www.hiddenhearing.ie.