How Hearing Loss Impacts Quality of Life
Hearing is the most common sensory deficit in the elderly, according to the National Institute of Health. While we may think of hearing loss as just a nuisance, or a fact of aging, hearing loss can affect your life, relationships, and mental state dramatically. Because hearing loss is usually degenerative, any negative effects of hearing loss will only get worse over time. Your quality of life can be profoundly affected by hearing loss, which is why addressing it early and finding solutions is so important.
Hearing Loss and Disability
How can you measure how the quality of life is impacted by hearing loss? According to the CDC, one way to measure is calculating disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). In the case of hearing loss, it does not mean that someone dies early, but rather that they have fewer years where they are in good health. The DALYs calculation figures in how hearing loss has limited an individual’s life, and these numbers are used to determine how the quality of life has been affected. One study that used DALYs looked at workers who were exposed to hearing loss at their jobs and estimated the number of healthy years lost for every 1,000 workers. It found that 2.5 healthy years were lost each year for every 1,000 workers. These studies, that seek to quantify how hearing loss affects quality of life, prove that there can be tangible negative consequences due to hearing loss. If you are experiencing hearing loss, it can be as debilitating as an injury or an illness, and your work life and financial state may suffer. If hearing loss impedes in your ability to earn money, or get a job, it can be devastating financially and emotionally. Even mild hearing loss can impact your earning potential, and maintaining good hearing is essential to communicating successfully on the job for productivity and income.
Hearing is essential to having good communication, and communication is the basis of relationships. Studies that rated activity level based on solitary or social scores found that hearing aid wearers were more likely to engage in activities involving other people. Hearing aid wearers were found to participate more in organized social events and more likely to attend senior centers than those who did not wear them, in a representative sample of people with self-admitted hearing loss. This same sample of respondents were asked about the quality of their interpersonal relationships with family members, and it was found that as hearing loss increased, interpersonal warmth in relationships declined. These findings are concrete evidence that hearing loss can impact not just your physical state, but also your emotional. If hearing loss left untreated, your relationships can suffer and this can lead to depression and isolation. Staying active and socially engaged as you age is great for both the body and the mind, and addressing your hearing loss, and finding a solution, is imperative to maintain your emotional health.
Your hearing loss does not just affect you, but the family and friends who surround you. It can be frustrating to try to communicate with someone who cannot hear well, but even more frustrating if they won’t do anything to remedy that loss. A loved one’s hearing loss can become a burden to those around them, further increasing emotional tension and stress.
Even mild hearing loss can impact cognitive function. Hearing loss requires more effort to understand sounds and speech, and mental energy is diverted away from other tasks. This extra energy used straining to hear can take away from storing information in your memory, or really understanding what is being said. A study by the University of Pennsylvania and Washington University in St. Louis found that “people with hearing loss had less gray matter in the area of the brain that controls speech comprehension. When stimulation of this area of the brain is reduced due to hearing problems, it could lead to diminished brain function.” So hearing keeps your brain functioning properly, and can keep you mentally sharp. There is also evidence that adults with hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia, and may have more difficulty thinking and remembering. Cognitive function is inextricably linked to quality of life, and hearing loss seems to be an indicator of deteriorating mental capacity.
A study by the national Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders on depression and hearing loss found that individuals with excellent hearing reported depression at a rate of 4.9 percent, while those who had good hearing reported 7.1 percent, and those with moderate to severe hearing loss was 11.4 percent. Those with more severe hearing loss reported a prevalence of depression more than twice as great as their counterparts with excellent hearing! Depression is a serious issue that can lead to isolation, anxiety, loss of relationships, and inability to enjoy life. Some of the symptoms of depression are outward, such as sadness or hopelessness, but others are more hidden but can still impact your quality of life. Fatigue, loss of appetite, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and loss of interest in hobbies and activities can all interfere with daily life and social engagement. If you are experiencing hearing impairment, you should seek to find a solution. Knowing that depression and hearing loss are linked, seeking options to improve your hearing can keep you emotionally healthy.There is hope for those individuals experiencing hearing loss. There have been studies done to explore the benefits of hearing aids among hearing impaired individuals, and findings have been significant. One study found that new hearing aid users had less anxiety and depression, and quality of life was also shown to be measurably improved. Maintaining your hearing will ensure that you are able to work, and keep your earning power. Your communication with family and friends will be able to continue through the use of hearing aids, and these relationships greatly impact happiness in life. Factory Direct Hearing is proud to carry a wide range of hearing aids that can help keep you mentally and emotionally healthy. Our hearing aids can be ordered online, so that you can quickly be on your way to hearing better and improving your quality of life.