Social Isolation at the Holidays has Two Critical Health Impacts
The Value of Hearing for the Holidays and How to Avoid Social Isolation this Season
By Jessica Florence
We are down to the last two months of the year, and everyone knows that this is the busiest, but sweetest time of year. From fabulous food, to fun shopping trips and spending time with loved ones, the sense of hearing is important in order to fully be a part of everything that is going on. This blog is a letter to anyone waiting for a sign to address their hearing as we urgently present to you some reasons as to why this year is the year to invest in hearing for the holidays.
The Damage Social Isolation can Cause on Relationships
Hearing loss can be frustrating for all parties involved. With many family events packed into a couple months at the end of the year, sometimes it can be easy to find ourselves emotionally drained from repeating “What did you say?” or having to repeat our sentences multiple times to the person you are trying to talk to who has a hearing loss. Whichever side you find yourself on, patience is often a much needed attribute. Some people resort to writing those with hearing losses off as just having “selective hearing” and sometimes give up altogether on trying to communicate with them. When people start avoiding communication due to hearing loss, social isolation creeps into the picture. What was intended to be a happy time of year full of love and family can turn into heartbreak and loneliness amidst the turkey legs, football games, and family time.
Hearing Loss and Depression
This may come as no surprise to say that studies have shown an increase in health disorders when social isolation is present. To specifically name a few, Depression and Dementia have commonly come up as issues that those with a hearing loss need to be monitoring and looking out for when they find themselves socially isolated. To be physically present, but unable to communicate when loved ones and friends are around is lonely and can cause depressing and self-degrading thoughts including a lack of motivation. To watch others laugh and involve in conversation that your ears simply cannot pick up on is a harsh reality that can really dampen the holiday spirit for so many. It can be embarrassing, discouraging, and downright frustrating. Three simple things to monitor whether hearing loss has led you to a state of depression are: if you avoid simple duties, if you find yourself avoiding social situations, or if you feel alone even with family and friends (American Academy of Audiology, 2022).
Hearing Loss and Dementia
Dementia often occurs when our brains have to work much harder when dealing with hearing loss to keep up in conversation. This can lead to the expense of our ability to store memories and think critically. To use data, it is estimated that hearing loss may actually be the cause of around 800,000 cases of Dementia in just one year (John Hopkins: Hearing Loss and the Dementia Connection). It is so crucial to keep our brains active to avoid social isolation that can snowball into such health issues.
The good news is hearing loss does not have to be so hindering and can be helped. If you have been finding yourself socially isolated and are not wanting to mess around with the risk of Depression and Dementia, we recommend investing in hearing aids where we can prescribe the devices to aid your specific hearing loss. Please note that if you are waiting until the end of the year to invest in hearing aids due to insurance and deductibles, the time you come in to get your hearing tested and meet with one of our providers, to getting fit with the actual devices and include several follow ups to ensure you are at the appropriate level of sound quality can equate to several weeks. We strongly suggest you not wait until the last minute to try and cram all this in before you travel for the holidays and see your loved ones. We want you to meet them with the best hearing you possibly can for the most positive experiences.
Imagine sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner. You have your sleek, new, hearing aids discreetly in your ears and all of your family is gathered around talking. Now imagine you are able to keep up! You don’t have to ask your granddaughter to repeat herself again, and picture the look of joy that comes across your children’s faces when they realize they can talk to you in their normal voices. To regain one of your only five senses and experience hearing for the holidays will truly be the biggest gift to not just you, but everyone you love.
American Academy of Audiology. (2022, May 27). Depression and Hearing Loss. The American Academy of Audiology. https://www.audiology.org/consumers-and-patients/hearing-and-balance/depression-and-hearing-loss/.
Clark, E. (n.d.). Does He Have Selective Hearing? [web log]. Retrieved October, 31, 2022, from https://levinehearing.com/blog/selective-hearing-in-men/.
Hearing Loss and the Dementia Connection. (2021, November 12). Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. https://publichealth.jhu.edu/2021/hearing-loss-and-the-dementia-connection.