We don’t often consider the consequences of hearing loss. Many people are aware that their hearing has deteriorated but are reluctant to seek help. Perhaps they don’t want to acknowledge the problem, are embarrassed by what they see as a weakness, or believe that they can “get by” without using hearing aids. Unfortunately, too many wait years, even decades, before getting treatment.
Time and again, research demonstrates the considerable negative social, psychological, cognitive, and health effects of untreated hearing loss, with far-reaching implications that go well beyond hearing alone. In fact, those who have difficulty hearing can experience such distorted and incomplete communication that it seriously impacts their professional and personal lives, at times leading to isolation and withdrawal.
Improving relationships with family, friends or co-workers is the most common reason people give when finally deciding to treat their hearing loss. When you misunderstand what someone says, say the wrong thing, or don’t respond at all this gradually affects your relationships with them. They might feel they aren’t worth your attention, feel you don’t understand them, or worse, ignored by you. When we care about them, this is devastating to hear. Especially when it’s not on purpose and improving hearing is possible.
Consequences of hearing loss: Studies have linked untreated hearing loss to:
- Irritability, negativism, and anger
- Fatigue, tension, stress, and depression
- Avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
- Social rejection and loneliness
- Reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
- Impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
- Reduced job performance and earning power
- Diminished psychological and overall health
Hearing loss is not just an ailment of old age. It can strike at any time and any age, even childhood. For the young, even a mild hearing loss could create difficulty learning, developing speech, and building the important interpersonal skills necessary to foster self-esteem and succeed in school and life (Better Hearing Institute, 200x).