A happy male, wearing hearing aids, sitting with a female for coffee. Focus is on the hearing aid.

As we age, we all know that hearing loss and certain mental health concerns can progress in spite of 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.

Depression is two times as likely in people who are dealing with untreated hearing loss. Compared to individuals who use a hearing aid, regular feelings of sadness were reported 27% more in people who have neglected hearing loss.

They were also 24% more likely to quit doing things they used to love and 39% more likely to feel as if people are angry with them for no reason.

There’s an even sadder statistic you should be aware of, though you won’t really like it. Don’t turn off that hearing aid!

This study turns our ideas about hearing loss upside down

For centuries, age-related hearing loss has been considered a “harmless” condition. It was thought that the other senses would merely compensate. People would just go on with their lives attempting to live safely, healthily, and happily. Hearing loss was not thought to have any health affects beyond the hearing impairment.

Of course we now know that’s not the situation. One of the effects hearing loss can have on your overall health is explored in this study.

This substantial 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) conducted this research and surveyed more than 2000 people 50 and older. Individuals with neglected hearing loss and people who used hearing aids were among the participants. They asked clinically-relevant questions to identify the levels of:

  • Depression
  • Isolation
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia

More than 2000 family members of the participants were also involved in this ground-breaking study. They did this to help corroborate what the participants were reporting. When we talk about hearing loss, this research, with the added verification, becomes even more pertinent.

How depression impacts health and quality of life

According to the American Psychological Association, those who struggle with depression are more likely to experience eating disorders that can result in severe obesity or extreme weight loss. Memory loss and insomnia are also more prevalent in those with neglected hearing loss.

They have diminished reaction time, which can result in significant injuries whilst cooking, cleaning, driving, and other activities. Healing is slower in individuals who cope with depression and that can result in longer hospital stays.

The risk of falls for older people is also elevated when a person suffers from depression.

As the hearing loss advances, so does the depression. The individual often becomes more and more secluded, lonely, and unable to care for themselves.

Now, let’s take a look at a really sad statistic.

Hearing aid usage rates

Only around 25% of individuals who would benefit from hearing aids actually wear them. Yup! For many, this increased rate of depression and all of its adverse effects are entirely unnecessary and avoidable, yet they’re not taking steps to prevent it.

Why so many choose not to use a hearing aid

When asked why they don’t wear a hearing aid, many people say they own one. They think it makes them look old so they just avoid wearing it. They’re embarrassed.

A hearing aid update would be worthwhile for these people. Today’s hearing aids can sync to your smart devices, work better, and are more subtle. This makes them seem more like an extension of your smart tech and less like a hearing aid.

Price is also an issue for a smaller yet significant number of individuals. The link between disregarded hearing loss and general health risks is now beginning to be recognized by states and insurance companies. Hearing aids are, because of this, becoming more available and affordable. In addition, individuals who object to the price of hearing aids also don’t realize how much-untreated hearing loss can cost them in the long run. They’re not aware of how hearing loss will impact their health and quality of life. In only a few years, your overall health cost can increase by as much as 40% because of unaddressed hearing loss.

What can be done to reduce hearing-related depression symptoms?

Be proud to wear your hearing aid. Help fight the stigma people feel about wearing a hearing aid by showing them how much healthier you feel when you can hear.

Take some time to learn the advanced features of your modern hearing aid to optimize 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, meet with us for a demo.

If you feel you’re not getting the most out of your hearing aid and are tempted to not use it, talk to us today about how to use your hearing aid more successfully.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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