If you’re one of the 35 million Americans suffering from hearing loss, chances are you’re one of 70% of them who is not yet wearing hearing aids. On average, it takes a person 7 years from the time they realize they have hearing loss to the time they seek treatment for it. Some people think hearing aids will make them “old,” or that they’re getting by just fine without them. In fact, hearing aids help keep us feeling and acting young, and refusing them can have negative effects we might not imagine.
Why Seek Treatment for Hearing Loss?
If you’re suffering the early stages of hearing loss, you might be aware of getting fatigued earlier in social situations, or maybe you pretend to hear people to keep conversations moving forward. As these trends continue, they get worse, not better.
Study after study shows that untreated hearing loss leads to stressed relationships with partners, friends and loved ones; social isolation; less pay at work; increased risk of falling down and the associated bodily harm; and even brain atrophy and earlier onset of dementia.
However, there is good news! Getting hearing aids sooner rather than later keeps us healthier and happier. Here are a few of the benefits people notice about their hearing aids.
Increased Earning Power
The Better Hearing Institute conducted research that shows people who have untreated hearing loss make as much as $30,000 less per year than those who treat their hearing loss. Hearing aids overwhelmingly helped people’s annual raises stay on pace with those of people with normal hearing. Those with mild hearing loss are 90% less likely to suffer decreased earnings when they get hearing aids. For those with moderate-to-severe hearing loss, getting hearing aids improved earnings 77% of the time.
Better Mental Faculties
With untreated hearing loss, it appears that the parts of the brain that interpret sound begin to atrophy, as they have less sound to interpret. This ultimately makes understanding speech more difficult, even after hearing aids come into use. What’s more, studies have linked untreated hearing loss to earlier onset of dementia and cognitive decline. It makes sense, doesn’t it? When we stop taking in new information (not necessarily “facts,” but the constant inflow of sights and sounds from the world around us) our brains have less to process, and they can more quickly “lose their edge.” Hearing aids help keep auditory information coming in, keeping the brain active.
Tinnitus, that annoying ringing in the ears, is usually comorbid with hearing loss, especially noise-induced hearing loss. Many modern hearing aids have features that allow them to be tuned to help alleviate tinnitus, but even hearing aids that are not specifically designed to address tinnitus help reduce the annoyance of it. While the tinnitus stays the same “volume,” the sounds from outside get louder, reducing the impact tinnitus has on perception.
Improved Social Relationships
It may seem obvious, but when we improve our hearing, we improve our channels of communication with those closest to us. People who wear hearing aids report marked improvement in their relationships – with not just better communication, but increased intimacy, fewer arguments, and more activities.
Increased Life Satisfaction
People who get hearing aids are almost unanimously in favor of them. In a Better Hearing Institute survey, 91% of respondents reported satisfaction with their hearing aids, and almost 90% would recommend them to a friend who had hearing loss. This is not just because the hearing aids work well, but because life improves as a result of them.
Imagine all the benefits that hearing aids can have when we open ourselves back up to serendipity and all that life could ever throw our way. Sometimes we forget to imagine what’s possible, but if we stay open to the energy around us, things happen and life continues to unfold in interesting ways. Hearing aids help us keep living life!