The increased rate of hearing loss in the older population seems to be common knowledge these days. According to Starkey, people ages 65 and older are five times more likely to suffer from hearing loss than younger people. The instances of hearing loss get even larger the older you get, too. Out of all those age 85 and older, four out of every five individuals develop age-related hearing loss.
But what many don’t know is that with increased hearing loss comes a rise in cases of depression and anxiety, particularly in the elderly where social isolation is already a serious issue. Since the population of individuals 65 years or older is expected to double by the year 2060, this is an area we would do our society a disservice to ignore.
A Decline In Hearing Often Comes In Tandem With Increased Isolation
Unfortunately, many older people may not realize they are living with hearing loss, as age-related hearing loss often approaches gradually, taking away hearing a little bit at a time. Furthermore, many of those who are cognizant of their hearing loss do not take the proper steps to mitigate the issue, which can perpetuate other related issues such as exposure to accidents of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression from isolation.
Those who have untreated hearing loss may be more hesitant to participate in social functions because they can’t hear as well as they used to. Communication may be particularly hard if they are actively hiding their hearing loss from others due to long-standing social stigmas around hearing loss.
According to a survey by the National Council on Aging on thousands of hearing-impaired adults, those people who did not wear hearing aids or use other assistive listening devices were far more likely to develop anxiety and depression and were much less willing to participate in social activities, which directly contributed to their feelings of isolation.
Finding The Solution
The first thing to do if you or someone you love is suspecting they are living with hearing loss is to seek a hearing evaluation. This simple, painless test can give you precise information about the nature and extent of your hearing loss.
The next step is to educate yourself or your loved one about the ramifications of hearing loss on both your physical and emotional well being. The more you know about these effects, the better prepared you’ll be to look for the signs and address them when needed.
Part of your education either through conversations with your hearing health professional or further research at home should be about the technological options available to you in terms of hearing aids and other assistive listening devices. A variety of options in hearing aids exist that vary from simple over the counter models, to custom made, completely invisible devices.
Lastly, once you’re armed with all the information and technology you need, you must continue to advocate for yourself or your loved one to ensure you are receiving the adequate amount of social exposure, outlets for expression, and support from those around you.