Hearing loss is one of the most common chronic disabilities affecting nearly 48 million people in the U.S. Imagine being cut off from communication with your loved ones. Conversations happen around you but you can’t really participate like you used to. It starts to become more alluring to just stay home, rather than to try to go to a party or a noisy restaurant, because it is too hard to keep up with all the conversations happening at once.
Seniors and Hearing Loss
That is the unfortunate reality of hearing loss for many seniors. About 25 percent of those ages 65 to 74 have significant hearing loss, and for those 75 and older the number reaches 50 percent. Sadly the majority of those with hearing loss don’t use hearing aids. Studies show that fewer than one out of three people over the age of 70 who need hearing aids has actually used them. If you have an aging loved one in your life, it is important to look for ways to help them stay socially active and engaged. A thriving social life can provide your loved one with friendships, accountability, and the support needed to avoid these problems.
Like impaired vision, diminished hearing can lead to less brain stimulation, another risk factor for a decline in thinking skills. It’s also possible that by making the brain work overtime to process the signals it is getting from the ears, hearing loss pulls away energy from the “thinking” parts of the brain. Feeding the brain is the key to keeping it sharp throughout the aging process, so in this way social activities provide a double benefit.
Hearing loss can lead to greater social isolation, something to which older people are already prone, and social isolation is a definite risk factor for cognitive impairment and dementia.
Researchers have found that adults ages 65 and older that participated in social and productive activities had a much lower risk of all causes of death than those who did not. People who continue to maintain close friendships and find other ways to interact socially live longer than those who become isolated. Relationships and social interactions even help protect against illness by boosting your immune system.
Less Problems with Depression
More than 6.5 million Americans aged 65 and older are dealing with depression on some level, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). For some in this range, these feelings of sadness or despair didn’t appear until later in life, such as when faced with a loss of independence or increased disability due to the aging process. Isolation-induced depression appears because of a lack of social interaction. In other words, if the elder doesn’t have a strong support network or spends a large amount of time alone, isolation, depression can take over.
By staying socially active, seniors can feel more connected to their community. That connection can provide a strong sense of purpose; a schedule, a reason to get up and get dressed in the morning, and relationships that make them feel wanted. Spending time enjoying the right leisure activities with friends and loved ones protects cognitive skills and keeps seniors intact later in life. Consider these brain-boosting leisure activities:
- Cards and board games with peers and family members
- Dancing, biking and other physical activities that keep you laughing and moving
- Singing and playing musical instruments, especially as part of a group
- Discussing world news and current events with peers
The benefits of a rich and vibrant social life as you age are too valuable to ignore. Hearing loss is a hurtle that is important to deal with in the name of keeping your social life active. The good news is that hearing aids can make a huge impact on improving your social life. Once you can hear in crowded situations and not miss information on a regular basis. Contact us at Ear-Tronics to set up a hearing test. We can help you find the best hearing aids for your needs and lifestyle to keep you fresh and full of life into your golden years.