Very often, friends, companions, the talker (the one having to repeat things) are the ones typically most aware of the other individuals hearing loss.
Santa Rosa, CA (PRWEB) December 24, 2014
New studies reveal that women under the age of 70 are particularly susceptible to hearing loss related depression (March 6, 2014, JAMA Otolaryngology*). And although many people choose to ignore symptoms associated with gradual hearing loss (about 50 percent according to recent polls) facing hearing loss head on can have an extremely positive effect on how a person feels and relates to the world. People who have benefited in this way report that overall improvements are also made by way of:
- overall health
- job performance
Hearing loss and depression
Hearing impairment is among the most common chronic conditions of aging. The prevalence doubles with every 10 years, and nearly two thirds of adults over 70 have a clinically significant hearing impairment (Archives of Internal Medicine , 2011).
Hearing loss has been associated with depression among American adults practically for as long as people have suffered from failed hearing. More than a decade ago the National Council on Aging (NCOA) surveyed 2,300 hearing impaired people age 50 and over, and found that those with an untreated hearing ailment were more likely to suffer from depression, sadness, anxiety and even paranoia. Things haven’t changed much over the years as demonstrated by a 2012 survey of AARP members that also revealed more than 50 percent reported untreated hearing health issues.
Studies published in this year by JAMA also reveal that women under the age of 70 are particularly susceptible to hearing loss related depression (March 6, 2014, JAMA Otolaryngology). Researchers revealed that as hearing declined, depression increased among almost all groups.
Hearing loss hinders one’s ability to engage with caregivers; accelerates the onset of selected disabilities, including cognitive dysfunction and mobility restriction, elevates risk of falls; and is independently associated with hospitalizations and burden of disease. A threat to independence, safety, and healthy aging, age-related hearing loss (ARHL) is underreported, under identified and understated. (Journal of Clinical Epidemiology )
Hearing loss can be devastating to overall well-being
Hearing impaired individuals as a group tend to avoid seeking help for hearing loss, but about 70 percent of those polled said they would make an appointment if urged to do so by someone they loved. Ultimately, hearing loss – whether gradual or sudden can contribute to a sense of social isolation, particularly among older Americans, and that can lead to depression.
“Because hearing loss occurs so gradually and since we adapt to changes so well, what is “normal” is just what the individual becomes used to and very often the patient is the last to know about their hearing loss,” says Dr. Marincovich. “Very often, friends, companions, the talker (the one having to repeat things) are the ones typically most aware of the other individuals hearing loss.”
Gen Xers (those born between 1965 and 1980) and baby boomers (1946 to 1964) are among the population of people who are developing hearing loss in record numbers today. And as older Americans are forced to stay in the workforce longer, the ability to hear well and stay on your toes is all the more important. Studies indicate that ignoring a deteriorating state of hearing can have devastating consequences including:
- impaired memory that can interfere with the ability to learn new things
- reduced job performance that can negatively impact a person’s earning potential
- diminished psychological and overall health
- reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
People with untreated hearing loss find it more difficult to communicate with other people, whether in family situations, social gatherings or in the work place. Some well recognized signs associated with undiagnosed hearing loss include;
- irritability, a sense of negativism and anger
- fatigue, tension, stress and depression
- avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
- a sense of social rejection and loneliness
Seeking Treatment – Turning up the volume on hearing loss
In many cases where individuals suffering from depression are successfully treated for previously undiagnosed hearing loss, the implementation of hearing aids have proven to enhance the quality of life by improving communication, social interaction and overall lifestyle.
We used to think that if the hearing loss was not treated that the auditory system might get “lazy” or “forget” certain sounds and that this would contribute to cognitive decline. What seems to be more the case is that hearing loss leads to social isolation, less connectivity, less engagement and interaction and individuals become less involved. Feelings associated with isolation and depression will no longer be the determining factor in a person’s outlook on life.
In fact, a survey conducted by Better Hearing Institute (BHI), a Washington D.C. area-based non-profit organization shows that nine out of 10 Americans who have hearing aids enjoy a higher quality of life. The NCOA Study mentioned earlier also confirmed the benefits associated with treatment reporting that hearing aid wearers and their families described considerable improvements in their mental health, family relationships, social interactions, self-confidence, sense of safety, and life in general.
The good news is that most people with hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids. The latest technologies make it possible to hear conversations and sounds from all directions as the state-of-the-art hearing devices today are designed to filter out some of the background noise. However, it is important to point out that the newest most advanced hearing aids are only as effective as the accuracy and thoroughness of the hearing evaluation in combination with the individualized prescriptive fitting techniques including Real Ear verification measures as well as Sound Field validation measures.
Clinically meaningful benefits are quickly achieved with hearing healthcare interventions, and the communication ability afforded by improved speech understanding is one of the main benefits along with keeping the auditory system “active” and helping the individual stay engaged.
So, clearly the best gift to give this holiday season – to yourself or someone you love - is a hearing test. It’s the best way to not only help improve hearing but to keep people connected with family and friends into the New Year.
In summary, hearing loss is not a standalone disability, it is integral to everything we do every single day. (Charlotte YTeh, chief medical officer for AARP Services). The high prevalence and disabling effects of hearing loss, coupled with the continuum of available interventions, mark the need for aggressive hearing healthcare wellness programs. These programs should include a hearing screening and communication needs assessment. Conversations about hearing loss should focus on the gain from social interactions, family connections and workplace productivity..
About Audiology Associates
Since 1984, Audiology Associates has been committed to improving the hearing and communication of residents of the North Bay and the surrounding area. Dr. Marincovich and his team of hearing care professionals pride themselves on their full-spectrum of clinical services, educational community outreach, diagnostics, hearing rehabilitation and balance care programs, as well as hearing loss prevention and research. To learn more visit our website or call 707-523-4740 to schedule an appointment with Audiology Associates for expert hearing care.
*SOURCES: Chuan-Ming Li, M.D., Ph.D., researcher, U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders; Robert Frisina, Ph.D., director, Global Center for Hearing and Speech Research, and professor of chemical and biomedical engineering and communication sciences and disorders, University of South Florida, Tampa; James Firman, Ed.D., president and CEO, National Council on Aging; March 6, 2014, JAMA Otolaryngology--Head & Neck Surgery, Archives of Internal Medicine 2011; 171 (20):1851-1852). This study was published online March 6 in JAMA Otolaryngology--Head & Neck Surgery.