As humans, most of us are blessed with five senses: sight, taste, sound, touch, and smell. However, not everyone is quite so lucky and some people have either lost certain senses along the journey of life, or never had them in the first place. If you’ve never had something, it’s hard to know what you’re missing, but if you lose something you’ve learned to rely on for a number of years it can be quite a daunting prospect.
This can often be the case when people begin to lose their hearing. They can sometimes become withdrawn and not want to partake in certain activities and it’s often because they are struggling to hear what’s going on but don’t want to admit it. However, when they do finally speak out and get the help they need they often find themselves with a whole new lease of life. It just goes to show how important good hearing is to our physical and emotional well-being.
There are many benefits to hearing well. As well as the obvious, being able to hear well increases our self-confidence, heightens our social experiences, and improves our productivity within the workplace. A loss of hearing affects all of those things and more. Some people wait around 7 to 10 years before even acknowledging there’s anything wrong with their hearing. A lot of this comes down to denial or the fear of looking old. However, failing to get a hearing test early on when there’s a better chance of fixing it could actually make you age quicker.
Hearing loss is linked to the earlier onset of dementia, earlier mortality, and six times a greater chance of falling in compassion to those without any hearing difficulties. Not being able to communicate effectively with others can lead to loneliness and depression. And, when input is diminished the brain becomes unable to distinguish sounds and as a result has to learn them all over again.
Rather than concentrate on all the bad things to do with hearing loss, think about what it is you gain when you do hear. Hearing allows us to experience life to the fullest. According to a recent study, hearing loss in Americans aged over 65 had a greater impact on life than cancer, cardiac disease, or osteoporosis.
As many as one in three people, aged 60 and over and two in three aged 70 and over have hearing loss of some kind. Even 12% to 15% of school-age children suffer from some kind of hearing loss, with teens being in the highest bracket. While some of this might be down to overexposure to rock concerts, jet engines, and car stereos, not all of it is. Hearing loss is not just a concern for the elderly; it’s a concern for us all.
The best way to try and protect yourself from hearing loss is prevention. Stay away from excessively loud noises wherever possible, and have your hearing tested at an early age. When AARP members were questioned about what was most difficult for them when they first experienced hearing loss 61% said it was being unable to follow conversations, while 44% said it was the impact it had on family and friends.
Around two-thirds of those asked said they would be happy to get a hearing test if hearing loss was affecting their relationships, and 59% said they would if they became a burden because of it. I say, don’t be a statistic, get your hearing checked early. With early testing, screening, and intervention, hopefully none of those things will ever happen and you will go on to live a long, happy, noise-filled life.