Aug 12, 2019
Hearing loss can affect so much more than just our ears. Sometimes the space between our ears is where hearing loss impacts our lives the most. Hearing is the gateway to social activities, but we’re instinctively social animals – we all need contact with our friends and family.
What can begin as an almost imperceptible loss of hearing can, over time, lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Those with hearing loss can find it increasingly difficult to participate in conversations, meaning they slowly withdraw from social occasions. And this puts them at risk of developing mental health issues.
Hearing loss has been identified as a possible risk factor for dementia (1). One study suggests that the worse a person’s hearing loss – if left untreated – the higher their chance of developing dementia.
It’s a sobering thought.
The relationship between hearing loss and mental health
A study by the charity Action On Hearing Loss (2) has made a clear connection between hearing loss and mental health, as well as tinnitus and mental health (although we should note that while there is a relationship, a direct causal link has not been observed).
So, what – if anything – can we do about it?
1. Get support When a person begins to lose their hearing, support from friends and family is crucial. The first person to notice the hearing loss is often a spouse or partner, not the person themselves. It could be that spouse or partner that first suggests a hearing test.
At The Hearing Care Partnership, we recognise the emotional impact of hearing loss, and our trained audiologists are on hand to provide friendly, empathetic ear care advice.
2. Seek rehabilitation and treatment
The key to successful rehabilitation is access to good hearing care advice and tools. This includes hearing aids and cochlear implants, alongside alternative methods such as lipreading classes and the offer of emotional support.
If you’re having difficulty getting back into the swing of things following a hearing loss diagnosis, it could be worth booking a few sessions with a hearing therapist. Your local branch of The Hearing Care Partnership will have contact details for your nearest hearing therapist.
3. Encouraging socialising and prevent isolation
This is the big one. Beginning to drop out of evening classes or lunch with friends is a slippery slope to becoming isolated and depressed. Reducing isolation is the way back to healthy living. Hearing aids can help those with hearing loss to re-engage with friends and family.
According to figures from Age UK, nearly 200,000 older people in the UK have no help to get out of their house or flat, over half of all people aged 75 and over live alone, and half of all older people say that the television is their main form of company.(2)
Book your hearing test today
As you can see, hearing loss often has far-reaching consequences that extend beyond the loss of previous hearing abilities. The best way to deal with hearing loss is to catch it early and take action. To do that, make sure you have regular hearing tests.