There is a strong correlation between hearing loss and mental health. Individuals who suffer from a hearing health problem are prone to also suffer from various emotional and mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, anger, denial, isolation, and fatigue. It’s very important for individuals who suffer from hearing loss to take action and get the help they need. Research suggests that hearing aids have proven to better mental health and the overall quality of one’s life. You may be wondering, how is this possible? And how can hearing aids have such a large impact on an individuals feelings and behavior? Here’s five examples how :
1) Wearing Hearing Aids Reduces Cognitive Decline
According to a study conducted by the American Geriatrics Society (AGS), [Link] people who had hearing loss that chose not to wear hearing aids showed significant mental decline compared to people with normal hearing. This study was conducted over 25 years with individuals 65 years of age and older. The key thing to takeaway from the results is hearing loss is proven to cause mental decline at a faster rate. So, choosing to not wear hearing aids will speed your cognitive decline up even faster.
2) Hearing Aids can Improve Memory
You may not realize this, but hearing aids can actually help with one’s memorization skills. In a study conducted by Texas A&M University [link], a group of people with hearing loss (that don’t wear hearing aids) were tested on a series of tasks to measure their memory, ability to focus, and speed of processing information. After giving the participants hearing aids and reevaluating them six weeks later, the results showed significant improvements in all areas of cognitive function. Therefore, hearing aids will keep you mentally sharp and faster at memorization as well as information processing.
3) People who wear Hearing Aids Report Lower Levels of Depression
Losing your hearing can feel like you have lost a part of yourself and your identity. This can ultimately lead to feeling sad, confused, and lonely. Audiologists often describe for patients a “cascading cycle of depression” resulting from the person with hearing loss finding it difficult to communicate, leading to anxiety and communication difficulties, loss of self-esteem, and decreased participation and social engagement in those activities that tend to create joy and satisfaction in life.Several studies have being conducted to determine if there is a direct connection between hearing aids reducing depression. Victor Bray, PhD, former Dean, of Salus University Osborne College of Audiology stated:
“ In a 2013 study using the NHANES data, Mener and colleagues14 evaluated over 1,000 subjects in their 70s who completed audiometric testing and the HPQ-9 screening tool for depression. They found that nearly 60% of the participants had a >25 dB hearing loss, and 4% met the criteria for MDD, while 7% met criteria for any depressive disorder. While greater hearing loss was not found to be significantly associated with greater odds of depression in this population of age-70 adults, the use of hearing aids cut the depression rate by around 40% compared to the non-hearing aid users.”
The importance of this finding is that if significant depression does exist in some of your patients, they can respond positively to the audiological treatment such as hearing aids that you provide. In addition, hearing aids are also intended to help promote social engagement which thereby reduces depressive symptoms.
4) Hearing Aids can Improve your Social Life and Reduce Social Anxiety
Trying to focus on conversations and make out what others are saying can be very stressful and cause one to feel worried and nervous. Instead of enjoying the company of others, your focus has shifted entirely to just trying to understand what is happening. As a result, individuals with hearing loss often avoid social interactions all together and isolate themselves. Social anxiety and fearing talking to other human beings is unhealthy and withdrawing from social settings will cause loneliness.
Research has shown that having positive relationships and social interactions daily is essential for humans to feel a sense of belonging and happiness. Wearing hearing aids can increase your confidence, help you converse better with those around you, and allow you to join in on the conversation again.
5) Hearing Aids can Help Reduce Anger and Stress
Feeling angry and stressed are normal reactions when one is dealing with hearing loss. It can be very frustrating to deal with the various challenges that come along with having a hearing disability. For example, one common association with hearing loss is tinnitus, or hearing sounds such as ringing, hissing, ticking, and more in your ear when no external sound is present. Tinnitus is an extremely annoying experience that can cause one to feel on edge, angry, and stressed.
Fortunately, many modern hearing aid models are now equipped with tinnitus sound therapy programs built right in the devices. Therefore, the decision to wear hearing aids can help calm and increase the overall mood of someone with hearing loss/tinnitus.
6) Hearing Aids can Help Reduce Fatigue
Trying to keep up with a conversation you don’t understand can be exhausting and overwhelming. Any situation where you feel you are straining yourself to hear and catch what is being said is draining your energy and can cause listening fatigue. For people with hearing loss, listening fatigue hits you harder and faster than people with normal hearing.
Wearing your hearing aids can help combat the effects of listening fatigue. You will notice your energy levels will go up when you make the decision to wear hearing aids because you won’t be exhorting so much energy of your energy to keep up.
Hearing aids have proven to have a significant positive impact when it comes to improving the mental health of those who suffer from hearing loss. Our Audiologists at Lake Shore Audiology are experts and will help you find the right hearing aid for your lifestyle and budget. Call us today to schedule an appointment at 716-674-4188.
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