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Hearing Loss, The Impact on Mental Well-Being & Lifestyle

In the last article, Steve wrote about the mistakes he had made in addressing his hearing loss. It was an honest account of the things he did to cope with and address his increasing inability to hear. It takes quite a bit of strength, and indeed bravery to be honest with yourself. I rather regularly say things like 'get over yourself',or, 'hearing loss is not a statement on you' in these pages. I do realise though, that for many, it's just not that easy. Steve has pointed out why those mistakes he made have impacted his well-being. He has done so to ensure that you don't make the same mistakes. There is a lot a stake here, untreated hearing loss has a huge impact on the mental well-being, general health and lifestyles of people. There are numerous research studies to prove this, however, one from a company called Clear Living is very relatable and easy to read. They undertook a study with 3.767 people over the period 2019 to 2020. The details are quite eye-opening.

Gaden party

The study polled Clear Living website users who either suffer from hearing loss themselves or are affected by a friend or family member's hearing loss. Both groups of participants answered questions around the most impacted areas of their lives citing personal, social and activity-related problems. The study also looked into the anxieties those with hearing loss had around having a hearing test and wearing hearing aids.

  • 89% of participants cited social and personal problems as a key impact of hearing loss for them
    58% of participant’s statements say that their relationships had suffered Users submitted a range of troubling statements from “I'm leaving him because of his deafness” to “it has caused me depression”
    Despite hearing loss, 75% had concerns about buying a hearing aid

Those are pretty rough stats, the fact that nearly 90% of the cohort mentioned social and personal problems because of their loss is sad. My question is why have they put up with it, why did it get so bad that it was impacting their social life and causing personal problems? 39% of users claimed that their conversations had worsened or were harder to follow due to their hearing loss. Again, the question, what are you waiting for?

Here are some of the personal statements made (you can read more in study), really read those statements, more than that, feel the emotion behind them:

  • 'Terribly. Can't sleep. Relationship broken up'
  • 'I could say a different answer and people started laughing at me.'
  • 'Isolated me from being in a public place.'
  • 'It has caused me depression.'
  • “People get mad at me.”
  • “Need people to talk louder and they have to repeat.”
  • “I'm tired of saying ‘What?'”
  • “I would say a different answer and people started laughing at me.”
  • “Have a hard time hearing what people are saying especially my grandchildren.”

Those statements hurt my heart, they resound of emotional pain. I don't understand, it's needless pain, why would you do it to yourself?

Needless Pain

Why oh why, oh why? Honestly, why? Hearing loss is generally completely treatable, modern hearing aids are pretty damn exceptional. They are easy to use, easy to wear and they pretty much do what they are supposed to. So why would anyone put up with frustration, loss and emotional pain in their life? 

Everyone Else

The study showed that hearing loss has a significant impact on those around the affected person: 58% of the submitted statements mentioned that their relationships had deteriorated. Site users who were looking for a hearing test/aid for someone else stated that using electronic devices (20%), communication (19%) and frustration (17%) are what impacts their affected person most. Here's what they say about them:

  • ‘It's causing my Mom to become isolated and depressed… She is 90 years old and 100% mentally [sound].’
    '[He] became depressed because of not understanding conversations'
    'Horrible to have to yell and so sad for my father who lost the ability to play instruments and sing..that was his whole life.'
    'It's seriously becoming an issue. I'm leaving him because of it. I doubt he’ll hear me leave.'

Why would you inflict that on a loved one? Honestly, why? It's the damned stigma isn't it? I have news for you, no one cares.

No One Cares

Believe me, when I say it, no one cares about the fact that you may wear hearing aids. I have said it before, hearing loss is not a statement on you, it just is. Not doing something about a hearing loss that is obvious to everyone, is more of a statement on you. Especially if it is causing so much emotional harm.

Truly, is it more embarrassing to be in control of your own ability to communicate or to stumble through life trying to bluff something while everyone knows you have a problem? 

Balancing The Voices in Your Head

I often talk about the voices in your head, the ones who would rob you of your confidence. The wheedly little voices we all know too well. The fact is, that we give them power, they are our thoughts, not the thoughts of others.

What Are They Afraid of?

In regards to getting either a hearing test or hearing aids, it was the devices that had people more concerned. 75% of people with hearing loss had various concerns regarding the purchase of hearing aids.
They had a range of concerns in regards to hearing aids citing product reliability (43%), cost (37%), comfort (8%), uncertainty (8%), aesthetics (4%).

Many were unsure as to how much a hearing aid would work for them and how reliable it would be, as well as the costs involved to get them. 66% of the people Clear Living asked who have had a hearing test were concerned before they went in for it. Of these:

  • 41% were worried about the results - their hearing loss being confirmed by a medical professional
  • 31% with the accuracy of the hearing exam
  • 14% had concerns with Tinnitus and another
  • 14% were concerned with the cost of the whole procedure

Addressing hearing problems early

While much of the study looks at the impact of hearing loss, some participants gave positive statements about hearing aids and how their lives had improved:

  • "Hearing aids allow me to communicate with friends and family as well as work colleagues."
  • "Without hearing aids, life becomes isolated and lonely.”
  • "[They're] a necessity to have conversations.”
  • "Hearing aids gave me my life back!" 

Life is too important not to be living it

Listen, life is too important for this shit, it's way too short to be living through some sort of half-life where you hide away from people and alienate your friends and family. You don't need to live like that, maybe it is time to make your life a little easier, oh and cut your Partner some needed slack. Life is too important not to be living it. 

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The study can be found here, it really is interesting reading:

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Posted by

Geoffrey Cooling

Geoffrey Cooling

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Geoffrey (Geoff, anything else makes him nervous) Cooling is an Irish hearing aid blogger and has been involved with the hearing aid industry since 2007. He has worked in private practice dispensing hearing aids and as a manufacturer's rep. He has written two books and they are both available on Amazon. He loves technology, passing on knowledge and is legendary for many other things, primarily the amount he curses, his dry and mischievous sense of humour and his complete intolerance of people who are full of themselves. Please feel free to connect with him.

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