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How hearing aids may improve your social life and prevent feelings of loneliness

Reading Time: 5 mintues
"by " Albert Stein
09/07/2021

Humans are inherently social beings. In fact, community is what sustains people1 .

Having a sense of belonging can help reduce stress and promote a sense of meaning and purpose2 . From a young age, most people effortlessly form friend groups through school, clubs, and sporting activities.

As people age, many people find themselves too busy to engage with their communities, or they may relocate to new places where they must build a new community as an adult.

These norms of modern life may cause many to downplay their need for community. But community provides a wide range of benefits, including the following:

  • Feeling supported by others
    Providing support to others and feeling supported by others is a positive feeling that goes both ways. Having a strong support network helps people to feel safe and hopeful in times of need.

  • Having a sense of belonging
    Feeling a part of something is central to the human experience. Connecting with others who have the same values and interests makes us feel understood and provides us with a stronger sense of self.

  • Sharing experiences with others
    Sharing with others make us feel engaged and empowered. We feel valuable when we can share with others and contribute to our community.

  • Learning from others
    Learning from others aids in self development and provides positive reinforcement that communities can help each other to learn and grow.

  • Feeling accepted3
    Acceptance is about appreciating others as they are, even if they are not in complete agreement with you. This means that communities thrive when they can accept the members of the community as they are, without judgement.

For people with hearing loss, it can become difficult to engage with friends and loved ones, making it challenging to feel a part of one’s local community. In fact, “hearing loss is associated with a higher risk of loneliness and social isolation4 .” When one’s hearing becomes compromised, it makes it difficult to properly hear conversations in public settings.

Many people may become discouraged and withdraw from situations in order to avoid stress and embarrassment.

In relation to such challenges, further research shows that “hearing status is negatively associated with higher distress and depression5 ”. As hearing loss makes it more and more difficult for someone to engage in their community and experience the support and feeling of belonging that a community brings, they may begin to feel isolated and distressed by the situation.

But given that we as humans have an inherent need to feel connected and understood by those around us, these findings are fairly unsurprising.

The good news is that treating hearing loss with hearing aids has been proven to improve one’s quality of life and ability to communicate. In fact, hearing aid wearers report improvements in the following areas:

  • Ability to communicate effectively
    Hearing aids allow you to clearly hear conversations around you, making you feel more confident in everyday conversations and activities

  • Overall quality of life
    Because hearing aids improve your ability communicate effectively, you naturally feel more confident about staying active and getting involved in the activities you love. By being able to engage confidently in your favorite activities, your overall quality of life may improve.

  • Willingness to talk and engage in conversation
    Most people with hearing loss are familiar with the feeling of wanting to withdraw from conversation due to their inability to hear properly. When you wear hearing aids, your newfound ability to hear clearly will make you eager to chat and engage with those around you.

  • Ability to participate in group activities
    If your hearing loss has you sitting out on a tennis match with friends or your weekly board game night, then wearing hearing aids will likely make you more eager to jump back into your favorite activities again

  • Improved work performance
    Your improved ability to hear will likely improve your ability to participate in team gatherings and follow along during important meetings.

The benefits of hearing better far outweigh the initial hesitation of trying something new. Just imagine how much better you’ll feel when you can enjoy conversations and group activities again. Better hearing means a better quality of life for both you and your loved ones.

Sources

  1. Kotifani, Aislinn. “What We Can Learn About Resilience & Community from Indigenous Leaders.” Blue Zones, Blue Zones, 12 Feb. 2021, www.bluezones.com/2020/06/what-we-can-learn-about-resilience-community-from-indigenous-leaders/.

  2. Kotifani, A. (2020, June 2). Casual Friendships, Coworkers, and Even Your Outer Circle Influence Your Health. Blue Zones. https://www.bluezones.com/2020/04/casual-friendships-coworkers-and-even-your-outer-circle-influence-your-health/.

  3. The importance of community: 7 key benefits. (2020, November 27). Retrieved from https://www.happiness.com/magazine/relationships/the-importance-of-community/

  4. Shukla, A., Harper, M., Pedersen, E., Goman, A., Suen, J. J., Price, C., Applebaum, J., Hoyer, M., Lin, F. R., & Reed, N. S. (2020). Hearing Loss, Loneliness, and Social Isolation: A Systematic Review. Otolaryngology--head and neck surgery : official journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, 162(5), 622–633. https://doi.org/10.1177/0194599820910377

  5. Nachtegaal, J., Smit, J. H., Smits, C., Bezemer, P. D., van Beek, J. H., Festen, J. M., & Kramer, S. E. (2009). The association between hearing status and psychosocial health before the age of 70 years: results from an internet-based national survey on hearing. Ear and hearing, 30(3), 302–312. https://doi.org/10.1097/AUD.0b013e31819c6e01