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When you have hearing loss it doesn’t just affect your ears, it affects your entire life. Hearing loss can cause issues that ripple through our health and quality of life. A recent study coming out of Finland has found that hearing loss has an impact on our mobility. Following over 800 seniors with and without hearing loss, the researchers found that those with hearing impairments often had a more constricted travel from their homes as well as more limited social circles.
Hearing Loss and Mobility
Hearing loss has many ways of limiting your mobility and can influence how you approach the world, in both unfamiliar and familiar settings. Often, hearing loss makes it hard to navigate noisy spaces. It limits the ability to both comprehend speech and locate the sources of sounds.
With these limitations, traveling to unfamiliar locations can produce anxiety and frustration. Spaces with many different noises like restaurants, stadiums and museums can make it hard for people with hearing loss to feel comfortable and makes participating in conversation challenging. Places that are hubs for transportation like airports and train stations can become difficult, especially when critical announcements are given verbally over and announcement system.
A person with hearing loss can easily feel like they are “bad at traveling” when really they are simply traveling with the extra burden of trying to compensate for things they are not hearing. The feeling of discomfort in these places and while traveling makes its mark however by gradually changing behavior patterns.
What once seemed like an interesting trip to a new movie theater now seems like too much hassle. A distaste for traveling far from home- even to familiar destinations- can also develop, constricting the radius a person moves through in their life.
Mobility and Social Isolation
A lack of mobility in the world can exacerbate social isolation. As more locations become out of reach to a person with hearing loss, the social connections associated with those locations also constricts. When we stop attending parties, religious services or family dinners we can easily lose the connections with friends and loved ones that we once found in these places.
Those who have hearing loss often experience a slow drift away from social situations they once engaged in. On a subtle level, hearing impairment makes these spaces seem less enjoyable. For someone who may not be acknowledging their hearing issues, this creates a convenient excuse for participating in social spaces – being part of social activities is no longer pleasurable. In such a way, social isolation can increase for an individual, perhaps without them even being able to see the root cause.
In the past several years, Finnish researchers at the University of Jyväskylä and the University of Tampere have helped put together the ramifications of hearing loss on mobility. Through studying a population of 75-90 year old people and their day-today activities, the university team found a remarkable difference between people with hearing loss and those without. Hearing loss meant it was twice as likely that the person’s life was restricted to their immediate local area.
Researchers followed study participants for two years and found that hearing loss led to a dramatic decrease in how far a person was comfortable and able to travel from their home. The Finnish study also charted various quality of life markers throughout the study period and found that people with hearing loss experienced a lower quality of life on average.
Treating hearing loss can help restore mobility and restore social connections. When we can hear better, it is immediately easier to find our way through spaces, engage in conversations and enjoy living. When hearing problems arise, seeking treatment is the most straightforward and effective way to regain confidence and retain mobility.
Kenwood Hearing Centers
If there’s been a recent change in your hearing, the time to see a hearing specialist is now. Here at Kenwood Hearing Centers, we help you understand your hearing and connect you with the best hearing solutions. We’re with you from your first visit to answer questions and give you options to hear your best. Our thorough audiological testing and expert knowledge of top performing hearing aids and assistive devices makes Kenwood Hearing Centers your first choice for hearing health.