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When people first notice a hearing issue it often seems minor or inconsequential – “easy to work around”- which is part of why many people put off treating their hearing loss for years. What often goes unrecognized are the subtle ways untreated hearing loss shapes our social behaviors. Hearing loss tweaks our social behavior and makes us more vulnerable to isolation and depression.
Fortunately, treating hearing loss can help you stay connected to the people and places you love. Hearing aids improve your lines of communication, help you follow conversations and navigate challenging sound environments like restaurants, parties and sporting events. With the help of hearing aids, many people keep up an active social life despite the challenges of hearing loss.
Hearing loss seldom changes behavior in a way that is blatant, instead, it gradually alters social patterns. Difficulty in hearing often makes social activities less enjoyable. Busy events like parties, dinners and concerts become harder to navigate and trouble with comprehension makes them less fun than in the past. Over time, many people with untreated hearing loss begin to decline invitations to situations where they know their hearing will be a challenge, even if they don’t acknowledge their hearing issues as a factor.
In this way, untreated hearing loss pushes us away from engaging and alters how we behave. Activities and gatherings that we once relished start to be passed up. The decreased enjoyment from social situations is no small thing either – it can contribute to anxiety and depression as well as other changes in mood and demeanor.
Untreated hearing loss doesn’t just mean we avoid noisy situations, it can even strain our closest relationships with friends and family. We become close with others through communication – both feeling understood and feeling we understand their perspective. When hearing loss becomes an issue, maintaining these lines of communication can be a huge challenge.
Many people delay treating hearing loss with the excuse that their hearing impairment doesn’t affect others. Nothing could be further from the truth. Difficulty in hearing others often leads people to decrease their communication with others or pretend to comprehend speech when they actually cannot hear properly. Both situations can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Unaddressed hearing loss can lead to problems at work or school as well as trouble at home. Partners and close friends often feel ignored or frustrated when communication isn’t clear. Hearing loss puts an unnecessary strain on our most valued social relationships.
Social isolation happens when social contacts and mobility are severely contracted leaving a person struggling and disengaged from others. Unsurprisingly, untreated hearing loss greatly increases a person’s risk of social isolation. By gradually whittling down channels of communication and social engagement, untreated hearing loss can severely limit how we engage with the world.
Part of overcoming isolation is being honest about hearing challenges and finding ways to engage with others that accommodate your hearing. If parties and restaurants are too noisy and chaotic for your hearing, make the effort to connect with others in quieter settings like library book clubs, public parks or hiking trails. New smartphone apps like SoundPrint can even give you a list of quiet restaurants and social spaces near you to optimize your hearing.
When it comes to staying in touch with those closest to you, it is important to be upfront about the difficulty you have hearing. Today’s technology can help keep you engaged with others through texting, emailing, photo sharing and chatting. If you grapple with the challenges of untreated hearing loss, taking advantage of text-based communication is so important for staying engaged with your loved ones.
Reconnect by Treating Hearing Loss
Of course, the single best thing you can do for your untreated hearing loss is to find treatment for it. Hearing aids are at the forefront of treating hearing loss, with discrete digital solutions that make hearing easier and more pleasurable. Modern hearing aids exist for every lifestyle and at every level of digital engagement. Streaming sound features make conversation and music easier than ever to follow and enjoy.
Don’t let untreated hearing loss hold you back from living. Audiology Consultants can help. We offer comprehensive hearing tests alongside analysis and treatment that is custom designed around your needs. Whether you need hearing assistance at home, on the job, out on the town or all of the above, there’s a hearing solution that’s right for you and we can help you find it. The time is now to hear better, so contact us today!