The Benefits of Being Social for Older Americans

The Benefits of Being Social for Older Americans

In hearing loss by Laurie Duffy, M.S.

Inside jokes with loved ones, lunch with friends, and even going to a party every now and then, is not only fun, but essential for our health. Humans are social by nature. It helps us feel connected, engaged in life, and helps give us a greater sense of purpose. Socializing not only staves off feelings of loneliness, but aids in keeping our memory sharp, our minds quick and can aid in increasing a general sense of well-being in our daily lives. 


The Risk of Loneliness for Seniors

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that loneliness may even lead to a higher risk of death, rivaling known health risks such as a sedentary lifestyle and smoking 15 cigarettes daily. For those of advanced age it is more important than ever to make sure to maintain a healthy social life. This can be tricky for many as, with advanced age comes less mobility, reduced energy, retirement, and loss of contemporaries. This is enough to  leave many feelings isolated and chronically depressed


Age Related Hearing Loss

One of the most common causes of hearing loss affects in three seniors over 65 and half of those over 75. Age related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis is caused by a lifetime of listening and changes to the inner ear, causing sensorineural hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when tiny hair-like cells, responsible for delivering sound from the inner ear to the brain become damaged, leaving an individual with irreversible hearing damage. 


Hearing Loss and Social Isolation

Presbycusis is more than just an ear issue but can quickly hinder social interaction. Parts of words of words in sentences start to go missing, forcing an individual to use more cognitive function to fill in the blanks. Often, conversations just feel confusing, exhausting and just not as fulfilling as they used to be. It is common for seniors who struggle with unaddressed hearing loss to avoid social interactions all together and choose to isolate instead. This quickly has a major impact on a senior’s quality of life, leading to chronic anxiety, depression, loneliness, cognitive decline, and reduced mobility.


Addressing Hearing Loss to Fight Loneliness in Seniors

While presbycusis is a permanent condition, it is not untreatable. The most common treatment is hearing aids – tiny electronic devices which fit in or around the ear canal and amplify the sounds around you so you are not forced to struggle. An audiologist will test your hearing and detect exactly what pitches volumes and tones you struggle to hear.


They will use this information, not only to determine the amount of power your hearing aids will need, but so they can program them to only amplify the sounds you need help with. Hearing aids may take some time to get used to, but after a week or two, most people wonder how they ever lived without them. Hearing aids will allow you to reconnect to the people in your life you may have felt distant from for years. They can make you more likely to try new things, take chances and feel more confident exploring new experiences independently.


Lower Your Risk of Dementia

 Despite the benefits of hearing aids, many avoid or put off treatment on average for 7 to 10 years from the time they first suspect they have a problem. Over this time many dangerous side effects take over a life. When you stop exposing yourself to new experiences your mind becomes slower. Hearing loss can also cause neural pathways to close when not addressed, leading to a higher risk of cognitive decline and dementia. In the fight against cognitive decline, it is important to take as many preventative steps as possible. Healthy lifestyle choices such as eating a vegetable rich diet, staying active with regular cardiovascular exercise, quitting smoking, and staying socially active with healthy hearing support all contribute to a decreased risk of dementia. 


Connect to Your Life

The important thing to understand is that heathy hearing is an important part of socialization so treating it as soon as possible can keep your mind body and soul healthy for years to come. We can’t stop aging no matter how hard we try and in fact, we recommend you embrace it. This doesn’t mean acting like a 20 something for decades after. It just means take care of health now, so you can age gracefully and continue to enjoy all the best part of life for years to come. One step you can take right now towards a better life, is to schedule a hearing exam today. We look forward to hearing from you!