The Dangers of Hearing Loss: What to Know and What to Do About it
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If you have a loved one with hearing loss, you are not alone. It can be incredibly frustrating to deal with this problem, but understanding the dangers of hearing loss might help you convince someone to do something about it.
The Hearing Health Foundation reports that over half of people over the age of 75 have hearing loss. Although 80% of people with hearing loss could benefit from hearing aids, only about one in four people use them. Or, if someone has hearing aids they won’t wear them. Let’s look at some of the problems associated with hearing loss and what you can do about it.
The Dangers of Hearing Loss
You probably think of hearing loss in the context of how difficult it is to communicate with someone you love. Family gatherings, one on one conversations, and doctor’s appointments become lessons in patience! People with hearing loss misunderstand what is being said and often make decisions or pass along incorrect information. Besides communication issues, we now know that there are other consequences of hearing loss that are serious and long-lasting.
- Dementia. Several studies show that hearing loss is associated with an increase in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Depression. Research shows that hearing loss doubles the risk of developing depression. Hearing loss also increases the risk of anxiety and other mental health conditions.
- Social Isolation. When people have hearing loss, they avoid social situations because they can’t actively participate. You may have noticed this with a loved one who has hearing loss. They gradually lose interest in interacting with other people and might be ashamed that they can’t hear. Social isolation and loneliness are also associated with depression. When someone can’t hear, their world gets smaller and smaller, and routine tasks become more challenging to perform.
Why Do People Avoid Hearing Aids?
There are several reasons that people say they don’t want hearing aids or don’t wear them. In some cases, the longer your loved one goes without a hearing aid, the more resistant they will be and the worse their hearing will become.
The cost of hearing aids can be high, and the cost is one of the leading causes of avoiding hearing aids. Some Medicare Advantage plans and Veterans’ benefits may help with the expense, but other insurance may not cover anything. More sophisticated hearing aids can cost thousands of dollars. For people with limited incomes, the cost is prohibitive.
The stigma of hearing loss and a hearing aid is a big deterrent. People would rather not hear than have others know they have hearing loss. Yes, it doesn’t make sense, but embarrassment is a widespread reason people don’t wear hearing aids.
Newer hearing aids are very sophisticated with the ability to sync to a smartphone. That’s the good news, but the bad news is that someone has to have the technological ability to use them. Maximizing these hearing aids requires a level of expertise that many older adults don’t have.
What to do About Hearing Loss
Talk with your loved one about hearing loss with respect and try to stay calm. Getting angry or frustrated is likely to make the situation worse and deepen the resistance. Offer solutions that address the problem points. Here are some steps to take:
- If your loved one is reluctant to go out for a hearing test, offer a free hearing screening over the phone. Having the results of this test is a good starting point and can be done in the comfort of your home.
You can also opt for another free hearing test that can be done from a laptop, tablet or smartphone. It is not unusual for people to deny that they have hearing loss. An objective test will inform your family member about the level of hearing impairment.
- Make an appointment with an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor to evaluate the root cause of hearing loss. Most people have age-related hearing loss, but you will want to rule out any other possible reversible causes.
- Consider online hearing aids like those offered by MDHearingAid. You can order these hearing aids over the phone, and they are much more affordable. MDHearingAid is also easier to use than more sophisticated hearing aids.
The Dangers of Hearing Loss
Now that you better understand the dangers of hearing loss and the long-term consequences, you can begin important conversations with your loved one. Be honest about your concerns and let them know that you miss their participation and family involvement.