As we age, we all recognize that hearing loss and certain mental health challenges can get worse despite a healthy, active lifestyle. And a strong link between the two has been observed by scientists which should never be ignored. So don’t turn off that hearing aid.
People with neglected hearing loss are twice as likely to cope with depression. About 27% more people with untreated hearing loss reported “often feeling sad” compared to people who used a hearing aid.
They were also 24% more likely to quit doing things they used to love and 39% more likely to feel like people are angry with them for no reason.
There’s an even sadder statistic you should know about, though you won’t like it very much. Keep that hearing aid turned on!
This study turns our ideas about hearing loss upside down
Age-related hearing loss has been considered a harmless affliction for centuries. It was widely believed that compensation would come from all of the other senses. People would simply go on with their lives attempting to live safely, healthily, and happily. Hearing loss was not thought to have any health affects besides the hearing impairment.
Of course we now know that’s not the case. This study illustrates just one of the greater effects that hearing loss has on a person’s general health.
This substantial and well-structured study forces us to rethink hearing loss as a society.
How the study was conducted
Over 2000 people 50 or older were surveyed in this research carried out by dedicated researchers at the National Institute for Aging (NCOA). The participants included a mix of hearing aid wearers and those with neglected hearing loss. They asked clinically-relevant questions to ascertain the levels of:
More than 2000 family members of the participants were also involved in this ground-breaking study. What they reported helped to give the participant’s statements validity. With this added verification, this research becomes even more significant when we talk about the effects of hearing loss.
How depression impacts health and quality of life
Eating disorders like acute obesity or extreme weight loss are more likely in individuals who cope with depression, according to the American Psychological Association. They are more likely to suffer from insomnia and memory loss.
They have decreased reaction time, which can result in severe injuries when cooking, driving, cleaning, and other activities. Those who suffer with depression have even been found to heal less quickly, causing complications and lengthy hospital stays.
The danger of falls for older people is also increased when an individual has depression.
Depression worsens as hearing loss advances. The individual often becomes more and more isolated, lonely, and unable to care for him or herself.
But there’s an even sadder statistic.
Hearing aid usage rates
Around 75% of people who should use hearing aids don’t use them. That’s right. For many, this increased rate of depression and all of its adverse impacts are totally unnecessary and avoidable, yet they are not taking measures to stop it.
Why so many choose not to use a hearing aid
Many people who don’t use a hearing aid actually do own one. They just won’t wear it because it makes them “look old.” It makes them embarrassed.
A hearing aid upgrade would be advantageous for these individuals. Modern hearing aids work better, and they are also more unobtrusive and allow people to sync with devices. This makes them feel more like an extension of your smart tech and less like a hearing aid.
A smaller but significant number of people say hearing aids are too expensive. The link between disregarded hearing loss and total health risks is now beginning to be acknowledged by states and insurance companies. They are helping to make hearing aids more budget friendly and obtainable. And untreated hearing loss can cost a lot of money over time which most individuals don’t think about. They’re not aware of how hearing loss will impact their health and quality of life. Untreated hearing loss can increase your overall healthcare costs by as much as 40% in only a few years.
How can hearing related depression symptoms be minimized?
Be proud to wear your hearing aid. Help combat the stigma people feel about wearing a hearing aid by showing them how much better you feel when you can hear.
Take some time to learn the advanced features of your modern hearing aid to maximize your hearing experience in every setting. You’re not getting the most from your hearing aid by simply cranking up the volume. If you haven’t upgraded your hearing aid in a while, contact us for a demo.
Consult us as soon as possible about the most effective way to utilize your hearing aid, especially if you feel like you’re not getting the most out of it and are tempted to put it in a drawer.