“It’s important to make your social life and your friends and family – make that a priority.” Samantha Barks
Whether you have always maintained a bustling social life with a packed calendar and lots of time with friends and family or prefer a quieter and more relaxed social life with family and a few close friends, hearing loss can make an impact on your plans. It’s hard to deny how we communicate and stay engaged changes after diagnosis, even with hearing aids. Hearing loss can become a barrier to socializing… but only if we let it.
Social side effects of hearing loss
According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 15% of Americans report some difficulty with hearing. While recent research points to several potential side effects of hearing loss from an increased risk of injuries to an increased risk of dementia, one may be subtle enough to go unnoticed by many until it’s too late. That is social isolation.
Experts believe that as hearing loss changes how we communicate and interact, it can affect our desire to socialize. Many report increased levels of anxiety or stress over social interactions. For some, difficulty communicating due to hearing loss may lead to a withdrawal from activities and the people they once enjoyed. Social isolation and even depression then become concerns.
Maintaining your social life
Social connections and healthy relationships play an important role in health and longevity. If you have a hearing impairment, be proactive about maintaining your social life using strategies like these:
- Schedule a hearing evaluation. If you haven’t already the most important step you can take to supporting a healthy social life is getting a hearing evaluation. Whether you suspect you may be missing part of what’s going on around you or others have brought up their concern that you may have hearing loss, a hearing healthcare professional can diagnose and offer treatment options.
- Talk to your hearing healthcare provider about hearing aids. Treating hearing loss is essential to keep communication strong and help you feel more confident in social situations. In fact, a survey by the National Council on Aging found that those with hearing loss who did not use hearing aids were more likely to be socially isolated and report feelings of sadness than those who did wear hearing aids. Working closely with your hearing healthcare professional can help you find the best choice for you and your lifestyle and shorten the learning curve as you start using them. Enhanced programming capabilities and added features can make hearing in social environments easier and more natural than ever.
- Be open and honest. Millions of Americans now have hearing loss. Chances are one or more people you know have hearing loss. If you’ve been diagnosed, be open and honest with family, friends and colleagues about your hearing loss. This can help to reduce any anxiety you feel, cue others into your need for more effective communication, and put everyone more at ease.
- Adjust plans, but don’t cancel. While you may find yourself suggesting quieter restaurants or events that offer options for the hearing impaired, don’t cancel your plans. It can be easy to give into anxiety or fear of embarrassment, but it’s a slippery slope that can quickly lead to no plans or social interactions at all. Invest in your health and well-being by spending time with the people you care about.
Social isolation can be more harmful to our health than we realize. Don’t let hearing loss hurt your relationships and social life. Take steps like these to continue doing the things you love even with hearing loss.
If you have questions or would like to schedule a hearing evaluation, call our office today.