Carolyn Palaga Audiology Services Inc.

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Hearing Loss - Do You Feel Isolated

Studies which have researched the effects of hearing loss suggest that the risk associated with waiting to treat hearing loss are too great. Research increasingly shows that untreated hearing loss can have negative physical, social, economic and mental effects on a person and his or her life.

Physical Effects

  1. Increased chance of falling A John Hopkins study found that those with even mild hearing loss (25-decibels) were three times more likely to fall. The study further claimed that for every 10-decibel increase in hearing loss, the likelihood of falling increases by a multiplier of 1.4.
  2. Driving abilities and habits are negatively affected A study of adults with mild, moderate, and no hearing loss was conducted to measure the ability of patients to drive with and without distractions. Results showed that those with moderate to severe hearing loss drove worse during distractions (both auditory and visual) than those with no or only mild hearing loss. A separate study found that those who believed they had poor hearing and were aged 65 or older were more likely to stop driving.

Social Effects

  1. Relationships become strained The National Council on Aging released a study detailing the effects of hearing loss on those over the age of 50. The study compared groups of people who used hearing aids to those who didn’t. The results were striking: those who used hearing aids reported a 56% and 40% improvement in relationships at home and with children, respectively. They also reported a 34% improvement in their social life in general. In comparison, those who did not use hearing aids were less likely to participate in social activities.
  2. Isolation Although it has long been known that hearing loss leads to isolation, a study published in 2014 by the University of Gothenburg’s department of psychology reinforces this widespread belief. They found that as people age, they become less outgoing overall. However, over the course of the study, they also realized that this tendency to become more introverted increases in those who have a hearing impairment. This study is just one piece of evidence that shows how those with hearing disabilities become isolated as their ability to hear decreases. Psychological Effects Depression It is common for someone experiencing hearing loss to feel depression and grief. At a 2015 convention for the American Psychological Association, Hope College professor David Myers presented the finding that out of 2,304 people studied, those who did not wear hearing aids were 50%more likely to suffer from depression than those who used hearing aids. Physiological Effects Research has linked untreated hearing loss to an increased risk in cognitive decline.