Hearing loss is much more than just struggling to hear during conversations. Communication issues can affect every aspect of life, including putting a strain on your most cherished relationships, your ability to succeed at work and can cause chronic depression. In addition to these far-reaching effects on mood and mental health, untreated hearing loss affects another area of our lives: spatial mobility and safety. This surprising side effect of hearing loss can quickly affect our quality of life.
Quality of Life
Quality of life is an abstract term which can mean many things to different people. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines it as “”an individual’s perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards and concerns”. This could be the quality of your relationships, your ability to pursue your joys, your hobbies and explore new things. When Hearing loss sets in it affects your ability to stay active because you are less aware of your environment. This means you may miss important warning sounds and alerts. You may miss an oven alarm or doorbell, an important call or the sounds of a dog collar jingling in the room. Hearing is a connection to the world and helps us react quicker in an emergency. This is why those with untreated hearing loss are at a higher risk of falls and accidents leading to hospitalization.
Study on Age Related Hearing Loss and Quality of Life
Hearing loss can affect anyone of any age, however one in three over the age of 65 are affected by hearing loss and this number jumps to half for those 75 and older. A recent study from the University of Jyvaskyla and the University of Tampere in Finland found that “older people with hearing problems have more limited life space, and that these problems lower their quality of life,” and that “the movement of older people is often negatively affected by their hearing loss.”
To compile this data, researchers monitored 848 older people (ages 75 to 90) over two years and analyzed their movements in conjunction with hearing loss. The data showed that “people who experienced hearing problems in different everyday situations moved less within their local area than those who considered their hearing to be good.”
However, it’s not just movement that matters. When you are proactive about treating your hearing loss, you can connect to the people in your life and less likely to feel isolated socially. This can allow you to pursue the activities and hobbies that you enjoyed before hearing loss. Treating hearing loss keeps you connected to your friends and the communities of which you are a part.
One of the key researchers, Hannele Polku, explains, “a person with many everyday social contacts and communication with others may feel that even a minor hearing loss may affect by everyday functioning. On the other hand, a person more inclined to enjoy domestic tasks carried out on one’s own doesn’t experience the same number of problems due to a change of similar degree in hearing.” Regardless of if you love to stay social, it’s important to be able to connect to people in your life by treating hearing loss.
Treating Hearing Loss with Hearing Aids
While there is no cure for hearing loss, it can be treated effectively with hearing aids. Hearing aids are tiny electronic devices worn in or around the ear canal which, based on a hearing exam can amplify only the sounds you need to hear. Hearing aids have been found to make it easier to hear the people and the sounds around you. This can boost confidence, improve relationships, and help to keep older adults more active and connected to the life they love. However, of those 69 and older who could benefit from hearing aids, only 20% have ever tried them. It’s important to pay attention to your hearing health. If you’ve witnessed a decline in your closest relationships, it’s time to act now. Schedule a hearing exam with us. We can help you find the best treatment for your hearing issues and help you access the highest quality of life possible. Call today!