It’s simple to see why hearing loss would lead to daily lifestyle changes — turning the volume up on TV or cell phones, asking friends to repeat themselves or talk louder. However, it’s less clear to loved ones how hearing loss can change the personality.But new research shows, hearing loss also can be linked to personality changes, some of which can have serious health effects. Specifically, older adults with hearing loss can become more isolated…and sadly, isolation has been associated with early death among seniors.
That might sound bleak, so let’s explain. A Swedish study supported by the National Institutes of Health watched more than 400 men ages 80 to 98 for a six-year period. Every two years, the participants filled out questions about their health (physical and mental), emotional stability and personality.
Researchers found that people with hearing loss were more likely to become more introverted. Hearing professionals have known this to be the case, but this study marks the first time that research could back it up officially.
Introversion might not seem like such a big deal, but increased social isolation can lead to loneliness and — according to a 2013 study of 6,500 seniors — has become a noticeable factor in predicting early death among the elderly. Keep in mind, neither hearing loss nor isolation cause early death, but researchers have seen the link.
So what’s to be done?
Address hearing problems — or even suspected hearing problems — early on. The average adult will wait over a decade between being diagnosed with hearing trouble and actually getting fit for a hearing aid, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
We understand that hearing loss is a difficult topic to discuss and how hearing loss can change the personality. If you’re experiencing it, you might worry about the stigmas of “getting older” or having to wear a hearing device. But technology has advanced greatly in recent years, and there are a number of discreet, affordable options to suit any lifestyle.
And if you’re suspecting hearing loss in a family member, it can be just as sensitive to talk about. It can be difficult to admit that health changes are happening, and it’s often tough to discuss unless someone is ready.
However, whether it’s your hearing health or the health of someone you love, it’s crucial to address the issue as soon as possible. Getting treatment (such as a hearing aid) early on can help prevent further hearing loss and improve quality of life overall.
Give us a call if you need advice. No matter your budget, no matter your needs, we’re here to help find the right plan for you.