As we get older, we all recognize that hearing loss and specific mental health challenges can progress in spite of a healthy, active lifestyle. And scientists have recognized a strong link between the two that shouldn’t be dismissed and it will help if you don’t switch that hearing aid off.
Depression is two times as likely in individuals who are dealing with untreated hearing loss. Nearly 27% more people with untreated hearing loss reported “frequently feeling sad” compared to people who used a hearing aid.
They were also 39% more likely to think the people around them get annoyed for “no reason” and 24% more likely to avoid social activities they once enjoyed.
There’s an even sadder statistic you should know about, though you won’t really like it. Keep that hearing aid turned on!
Our beliefs about hearing loss will be entirely altered by this study
Age-related hearing loss has been considered a harmless condition for centuries. It was thought that the other senses would merely compensate. The person would just get by and go on to live the rest of their days healthily, safely, and happily. Hearing loss wasn’t believed to have any health impact beyond the hearing impairment.
Of course we now know that isn’t the case. This study establishes just one of the larger effects that hearing loss has on a person’s general health.
This significant and well-structured study forces us to rethink hearing loss as a society.
How the study was conducted
Dedicated researchers at the National Institute for Aging (NCOA) carried out this research and surveyed more than 2000 individuals 50 and older. The participants included a mix of hearing aid users and those with untreated hearing loss. Clinically relevant questions were asked to establish the levels of the following:
The study took a ground-breaking step by introducing over 2000 family members of the research participants. What they reported helped to give the participant’s statements validity. With this additional verification, this research becomes even more significant when we talk about the effects of hearing loss.
How health and quality of life are affected by depression
According to the American Psychological Association, those who struggle with depression are more likely to develop eating disorders that can result in severe obesity or extreme loss of weight. They are more likely to experience insomnia and loss of memory.
While cooking, driving, and other activities, their diminished reaction time can lead to severe injury. Healing is slower in individuals who suffer from depression and that can lead to longer hospital stays.
The chance of falling for older people is also increased when a person has depression.
As the hearing loss advances, so does the depression. The person usually becomes more and more secluded, lonely, and unable to care for him or herself.
Now, let’s look at a really sad statistic.
Hearing aid usage rates
Only around 25% of those who need hearing aids actually use them. That’s right. For many, this increased rate of depression and all of its negative impacts are entirely unnecessary and avoidable, yet they are not taking measures to stop it.
Why do so many people neglect using a hearing aid?
When asked why they don’t use a hearing aid, many individuals say they own one. They think it makes them look old so they simply avoid wearing it. They’re embarrassed.
A hearing aid update would be advantageous for these people. Today’s hearing aids can sync to your smart devices, work better, and are more subtle. This makes them feel less like a hearing aid and more like an extension of their smart tech.
A smaller but significant number of individuals say hearing aids are too expensive. States and insurance companies are now starting to recognize the link between untreated hearing loss and overall health. They are helping to make hearing aids more budget friendly and accessible. And unaddressed hearing loss can cost a lot of money over time which the majority of people don’t take into consideration. They’re not aware of how hearing loss will affect their health and quality of life. In only a few years, your total health cost can go up by as much as 40% because of untreated hearing loss.
What can be done to reduce hearing-associated depression symptoms?
Be proud to wear your hearing aid. Help combat the stigma people feel about using a hearing aid by showing them how much better you feel when you can hear.
Optimize your hearing in every setting with your modern hearing aid by taking a little time to master the advanced features. You’re not getting the most out of your hearing aid by simply cranking up the volume. If you haven’t upgraded your hearing aid in a while, meet with us for a demo.
If you feel you’re not getting the most out of your hearing aid and are tempted to leave it off, talk to us today about how to use your hearing aid more successfully.