Living in Isolation- Social Seclusion for those with Hearing Loss

Hearing loss and social isolation

For many people, social interaction is a must. You see family, friends, coworkers, strangers in the grocery store. You make conversation with them and chat about your day, future plans, and how your kids did in their sporting events.
It can be a very different picture for someone living with hearing loss. The frustration of not hearing the conversation or the embarrassment of being asked questions repeatedly without realizing it can be overwhelming. Going out in public can seem like an effort in futility for those who have reduced hearing.
Many are exhausted just attempting to follow a conversation. This is called listening fatigue and it is a very real problem for many people with diminished hearing. Symptoms of hearing fatigue are:

  • Discomfort
  • Headache/Pain
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Inability to comprehend what is being said to or around you
  • Loss of sensitivity
  • Tiredness

Work events, a trip to the movies, or dinner in a busy restaurant are all things that could make someone with reduced hearing uncomfortable in many ways. It may seem easier to just stay home, that way they don’t have to try to follow a conversation.
With the decline in hearing, many experience loneliness and it frequently gets to severe and unmanageable levels before they seek treatment, or a loved one steps in and insists they see a hearing professional. Often, they aren’t aware even they have a hearing problem because it comes on slowly, over time.
The majority of hearing loss takes months or years to get to the level that it is noticed. Age-related hearing loss has many side effects for seniors. The dangers of dementia are increased by a whopping fifty percent and depression risks come in a close second at forty percent.
It is also shown to be associated with higher levels of stress hormones, weakening of the immune system, and higher blood pressure. Due to the lack of social interaction, the risk of early death for people who cannot hear is increased by twenty-six percent.
The isolation of those with hearing loss is a major problem for people around the world. It isn’t just age-related, though a larger majority of people suffering from these secondary difficulties are from older generations. Many choose not to seek treatment for different reasons.
High costs can be a factor for people of any age, though there are several programs out there that offer assistance and low-cost hearing devices to those in need. Fear of stigma can also be a stopping point for people, with the expectation that others will view them as weak or needy.
Older generations may be uncomfortable with the thought of updated technology and decide they simply wouldn’t understand how to operate the device. This also leads to the reason that many people who do have hearing aids choose not to use them. The frustration of adapting to something new can seem overwhelming, especially to someone with profound hearing loss.
Another potential issue is the lack of resources. Some people simply don’t have the support network needed to make this kind of life-altering change. Many require someone to drive them to and from audiology appointments and fittings. Some need assistance regularly with simple tasks like fitting the device into their ear, cleaning, or changing the batteries.
Sometimes just one of these issues alone is enough to challenge a person beyond the desire to seek treatment, but when combined, offer many perceived reasons to avoid it. The support of those around you such as family, friends, coworkers, even the company you work for can mean the difference between feeling valued enough to look for assistance.
By avoiding the issue, many people subject themselves to a life of loneliness and seclusion. They suffer needlessly alone, instead of looking for a solution to end their drift into solitary confinement. A shocking 70 to 80 percent of older people who are in need of hearing assistance are not seeking help for their hearing loss. That means over 23 million seniors are not being treated.
This predicament is not exclusive to older adults. There are many younger adults and teens who chose to avoid social contact simply because it’s easier. The difficulties of meeting and navigating relationships with new people can be unpleasant and embarrassing.
Depression and social anxiety are common in younger people with hearing loss too. They are subject to the same stresses and disappointments that seniors experience. Suicide rates are higher in the deaf community for those who opt not to seek regular treatment.
By visiting a hearing professional, there could be an opportunity once again for a full social calendar. The chance to hear a loved one’s voice, the tweet of a bird, or the rushing of a waterfall can be powerful motivators.
We are trained to diagnose and troubleshoot hearing loss. We will talk about the options available as well as the costs involved. Don’t wait, call today to make an appointment to begin living a quality, hearing life.

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