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Hearing loss is on the rise in America. Life is getting louder, to the point that 48 million Americans report having some amount of hearing loss. Even as many as 20% of teenagers have measurable hearing loss in one or both ears.
Age-Related Hearing Loss Is Very Common
But by far the most common type of hearing loss is age-related hearing loss. About 1 in 3 people age 65–74 has hearing loss. About half of those over 75 do, and almost 100% of those who reach 100-years-old have it, suggesting that if we live long enough, we will all suffer hearing loss.
Hearing Loss Is Under-Treated
Even with all that hearing loss, it’s still the case that only about 1 out of 5 people who could use hearing aids is wearing them. On average, people wait about 7 years from the time they notice hearing loss to the time they start wearing hearing aids to treat it. There’s good reason to believe that wearing hearing aids sooner rather than later is important to maintaining overall health and well-being, largely because of the effect on our social relationships.
Untreated Hearing Loss Increases Risk of Negative Health Outcomes
Over the course of ten years, someone with untreated hearing loss is 50% more likely to develop dementia, 40% more likely to suffer from depression, and 30% more likely to sustain injuries due to falling than someone who wears hearing aids. It is likely that the increased risk of depression is due to loneliness and social isolation, which are extremely common outcomes of untreated hearing loss over time.
As we lose our hearing, conversation becomes more difficult. We become tired in social situations much faster than those who wear hearing aids or have normal hearing, so we will often leave the party earlier than others. It all starts to feel like too much bother, and soon we naturally start to shrink from social engagements, preferring to stay at home where we don’t have to ask people to repeat themselves over and over, apologize for our hearing loss, or pretend to hear.
Hearing Loss Is Frustrating For Loved Ones
For those who spend most of their time around us hearing loss is incredibly frustrating. Both those with hearing loss and their partners report decreased satisfaction in their relationships. The partner of a person with hearing loss needs to repeat themselves frequently, while the partner with hearing loss can end up feeling misunderstood or uncared for when the normal-hearing partner becomes frustrated. Conversation becomes limited to only the most important communications, and intimacy is harder to maintain. Couples who used to joke and chatter with each other all day can fall into silence.
Australian Survey Finds Hearing Aids Improve Relationships
An Australian survey of 300 older people with hearing aids found that people considered hearing aids to have numerous positive effects on their social relationships and intimate partnerships, alike.
Over half said that hearing aids improved their social lives, and two thirds said hearing aids helped them to better connect with family and friends. One in ten credited hearing aids with improving their love life, and nobody claimed that hearing aids had hurt their love life.
Hearing aids allow us to maintain our level of activity and behave more like younger people. Many respondents pointed out that hearing aids helped them to more easily engage in intimate conversations. This makes sense, doesn’t it? It’s hard to speak intimately and freely when you have to shout to be understood!
Eighty four percent of hearing aid wearers said that it was easier for other people to talk to them, while 75% said that others no longer had to increase the volume of their voices for them to understand speech.
Get Your Hearing Tested
If you’re noticing hearing loss, make an appointment for a hearing test with Kenwood Hearing Centers today and see for yourself what hearing aids can do to improve your life. Your loved ones will thank you, and if you’re like 95% of people, you’ll be very glad you started wearing hearing aids.