Each year, we set aside the month of May to celebrate Better Hearing and Speech Month. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association chooses a theme, and this year we will consider how hearing assistance is “Connecting People.” If you have someone in your life with hearing loss, you might have noticed an effect on the connection between you. Let’s take this opportunity to celebrate Better Hearing and Speech Month by considering how hearing aids can improve your connection with those in your life who have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss and Social Connections
When a person has untreated hearing loss, it can take a while to notice the impact on social relationships. At first, it might just be more difficult to hear certain sounds or individual voices that are quitter or higher pitched, such as those of children. However, with time it can become more difficult to communicate with many of the people in your life. This strain on communication can impact your social connections in a variety of ways.
In the first sense, the practical details of conversations can become jumbled and miscommunicated. A person with hearing loss might miss important instructions or information that is necessary for a family or community to work together. In the second sense, the emotional tenor of conversations can become more difficult, as well. When a person is struggling to communicate, it can be frustrating, and some people even become angry at the barriers in a conversation. Although the frustration is really targeted at the hearing loss itself, it’s easy to misperceive the anger to be directed at individuals. When a person with hearing loss asks you to repeat yourself or speak up, it can become exhausting for all involved.
In the third sense, hearing loss can impact social connections through a deeper feeling of isolation. After a series of frustrating conversations, a person with untreated hearing loss might opt out of conversations altogether. Rather than going to family gatherings, community activities, or doing errands in the community, a person can become socially isolated. This feeling of isolation not only harms social connections but it also can cause depression and other health concerns.
Treatment and Improved Relationships
The good news is that getting treatment for hearing loss can reverse the course of social disconnection. Rather than struggling to get all the important information from family, friends, and community members, hearing aids can restore the process of communication, making sure you don’t miss any information to integrate with your social network. Whereas someone with untreated hearing loss might have felt frustrated or angry in a conversation, hearing aids can restore a sense of peace and the ability to carry on pleasant interactions with friends and strangers alike. Hearing aids also prevent social isolation. The anxiety that one might have felt at being expected to answer questions and socialize at a party, dinner, or community event is relieved by having hearing aids in place. These many benefits to social connections are reason enough to seek treatment for hearing loss, but the benefits also extend far into health and wellness in other domains.
Connecting People, Treating Hearing Loss
As you can see, treating hearing loss is a way to connect people with one another. Not only can a person with hearing aids feel confident to go into the community and to interact with strangers, but these devices also help repair relationships between loved ones, friends, and family members. Where once a person might have felt a negative cloud over their relationships, hearing aids can make it possible to integrate and communicate in a positive manner once again. If you have someone in your family or community who is experiencing social disconnection due to hearing loss, the time is now to encourage them to seek assistance. By simply making an appointment for a hearing test, we can assess that person’s needs and pair them with the right assistive devices. Our experts are prepared to find the best solution to each individual case of hearing loss, and the benefits for relationships and social connections will be right around the corner. Take the opportunity of Better Hearing and Speech Month to help someone in your life get treatment for hearing loss!
As we discussed previously, long term untreated hearing loss can have profound physical, mental, and emotional effects for seniors. But there is substantial evidence that taking steps to improve our hearing will go a long way to ensuring our physical and mental well-being as we age. We are living longer, healthier and more actively than our parents generation. We take care of ourselves, and we refuse to sit on the sidelines of life. Since we are living longer, we certainly want to age well, and our generation (the Baby Boomers) tends to “take the Bull by the horn.” But it’s important to understand that we don’t treat hearing loss just to hear with more clarity. We treat hearing loss to improve our quality of life, and the longevity of that quality! Addressing and treating hearing loss can be a long, sometimes challenging process, but most of us are up to the challenge. There are many benefits to treating our hearing loss. Here are just a few: