Recently I spoke with a friend of mine who is 80+ and lives alone. He was sharing how important it was for him to remain in his own home and continue to be independent for as long as possible. His confidence and sense of security with his decision to stay in his current residence comes from being able to hear. He also participates at his local senior center. He wears his hearing aids daily.
The following article from American Academy of Audiology discusses the positive benefits of hearing aid users. A sense of independance and social interactions are included. More information can be found from The National Council on Aging. https://www.ncoa.org/
Untreated Hearing Loss Linked to Depression, Social Isolation in Seniors
“This study debunks the myth that untreated hearing loss in older persons is a harmless condition,” said James Firman, EdD, president and CEO of The National Council on the Aging. The survey of 2,300 hearing impaired adults age 50 and older found that those with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia and were less likely to participate in organized social activities, compared to those who wear hearing aids.
Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in the United States, affecting more than nine million Americans over the age of 65 and 10 million Americans age 45 to 64. But about three out of five older Americans with hearing loss and six out of seven middle-aged Americans with hearing loss do not use hearing aids.
Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss
The survey found that significantly more of the seniors with untreated hearing loss (those who do not wear hearing aids) reported feelings of sadness or depression that lasted two or more weeks during the previous years. Among respondents with more severe hearing loss, 30 percent of non-users of hearing aids reported these sad feelings, com-pared to 22 percent of hearing aid users.
Another measure of emotional distress is the perception that “other people get angry at me for no reason,” which psychologists often identify as an indicator of paranoia.
Older non-users were more likely to agree with the statement “people get angry with me usually for no reason” (14 percent of users vs. 23 percent of non-users). Among those with more severe hearing loss, the difference was even greater—14 percent for users vs. 36 percent for non-users.
Because social isolation is a serious problem for some older people, the study also examined social behavior and found that people who don’t use hearing aids are considerably less likely to participate in social activities. Among respondents with more severe hearing loss, 42 percent of hearing aid users participate regularly in social activities com- pared to just 32 percent of non-users.
Carolyn Holmes, PhD, of the Seniors Research Group said, “This survey is groundbreaking not only in the large size of the sample but also in the inclusion of 2,090 close family members or friends of the hearing- impaired respondents who were asked a parallel set of questions.”
Benefits of Treatment
Hearing aid users reported significant improvements in many areas of their lives, ranging from their relationships at home and sense of independence to their social life and their sex life. In virtually every dimension measured, the families of hearing aid users also noted the improvements but were even more likely than the users to report improvements.
|Improvement Area||Improvement Reported by Hearing Aid User (%)||Improvement Reported by User’s Family (%)|
|Relations at home||56||66|
|Feelings about self||50||60|
|Relations with children, grandchildren||40||52|
|Sense of safety||34||37|
|Relations at work||26||43|