Mental health is overall health — how you feel, the everyday stress you experience, and traumatic events all impact your well-being. Being healthy and feeling good about yourself starts with living a full life, with the full use of your senses. But what happens when you experience hearing loss and the joys of the sounds of the world around you?
Hearing loss impacts your overall health more than you think; it’s not just a physical impairment. Without the right support, hearing loss can affect mental health and overall well-being, as it can hinder a person’s personal and professional relationships. This usually happens when hearing loss goes unnoticed or untreated, and increasingly affects a person’s quality of life.
Are you or a loved one experiencing hearing loss? It’s important to understand its impact on mental health early on. May is Better Hearing Month — let’s see how we can support people dealing with hearing loss to promote their emotional well-being.
Hearing Loss and Age
It’s often said that hearing loss — along with the decline of other mental faculties and the rest of the body — are common in old age; however, even children can experience hearing loss. The timing of hearing loss is important, as adults and children experience different emotional effects, and require varying degrees of support.
Hearing Loss in Children
Kids undergo so many changes during their formative years — as their bodies grow taller and bigger, they’re also expected to learn valuable skills and knowledge in school. During this time, they form their identity by developing social and coping skills. But hearing loss can make it hard to achieve these developmental milestones, as it can lower their self-esteem and affect their ability to succeed in school and make friends.
Undiagnosed hearing loss can cause children to struggle with absorbing material taught in school. This can lead them to appear like they’re not making an effort or are not intelligent enough. At home, they may exhibit behavioural issues as a result of feeling like no one understands them.
Even when hearing loss is diagnosed and treated with a hearing aid, some children still feel isolated because they appear different from others. That’s why this Better Hearing Month, it’s important to raise awareness on hearing loss experienced by children and help them build their self-esteem.
Hearing Loss in Adults
Adults often come hard of hearing or experience varying degrees of hearing loss in old age. But this isn’t always the case; certain health conditions and traumatic events can hasten its onset — like when they should be having the best and most productive years of their career.
Unlike kids whose lives are just starting out, adults grapple with the impact of hearing loss on their established identity, routines, and relationships. This often results in feeling a loss of control over their lives, which impacts their emotional health.
When hearing loss goes undiagnosed, adults end up struggling both at home and work. It becomes difficult to communicate with and be understood by loved ones as so much of what is said is lost in the void. At work, the flow of information and necessary follow-through is restricted by limited hearing and understanding. These frustrating developments can compound and cause stress and depression.
Hearing Loss and Overall Health
The stress, anxiety, and depression caused by hearing loss — and the added impact of poor communication and performance — all take a toll on a person’s well-being. These effects can even extend to their loved ones who struggle to understand what they are going through.
During Better Hearing Month, it’s important to understand how hearing loss can affect overall health, and even lead to increased healthcare needs. People who experience hearing loss often struggle with communicating based on cues they can’t process, and as a result, deal with cognition and memory issues.
They can also become more prone to falls, stress, depression, dementia, and social isolation — all of which require increased support to navigate as they are forced to adjust to a new normal defined by the loss of one of their senses.
Hearing Aids: Towards Better Hearing and Health
The development of hearing aids has led to positive effects on people struggling with hearing loss. While it takes some getting used to — and confidence to handle looking and feeling different from others — hearing aids can help restore a person’s emotional health and overall well-being.
Thanks to hearing aids, people who have experienced the loss of their hearing can hear again, or hear better if the loss was only mild to moderate. As they can now process auditory signals and experience sound, they can respond better to social cues and communicate more effectively. These positive developments can help repair fractured identities and relationships, and boost self-confidence for better performance in school or at work.
Supporting Loved Ones Through Better Hearing
This Better Hearing Month, it’s important to raise awareness on the struggles of those experiencing hearing loss, and the impact of this deterioration on their emotional well-being. The key to navigating this disability is support — understand the impact of hearing loss on everyday life, and how it affects a person’s ability to communicate, absorb information, and relate to the people around them.
The celebration of Better Hearing Month also highlights the importance of early diagnosis and treatment with hearing aids. The earlier that hearing loss is diagnosed, the more likely it can be prevented from progressing, especially for cases that start out as mild. Early treatment also helps people to adjust to using hearing aids faster, allowing them to understand and communicate with the people around them without feeling stressed and isolated.
Let’s celebrate Better Hearing Month by supporting the emotional needs of loved ones experiencing hearing loss.
To learn more about the impact of hearing loss on mental health and how hearing aids can help, call Living Sounds at 780-488-8100 or contact us here.