September is Healthy Aging Month and a good time to think about healthy practices that promote a happier and longer life. For example, we can consider eating a more balanced diet, quit questionable habits like smoking, or devote more time to physical exercise. But if any of these resolutions sound daunting, here is an easier thing to do that could still have a positive effect on your physical, emotional, and mental health. This month get a hearing test, or if you already have hearing loss, seek proper treatment, such as wearing hearing aids.
Wearing hearing aids keeps you socially active
It is hard to enjoy time with friends and family when you can no longer keep up with the conversation. Phone calls that do not come with helpful visual cues are especially hard with hearing loss, so it becomes more difficult to stay in touch. Larger social gatherings typically come with a lot of noise that makes it even harder to carry on a conversation, so they are not as much fun anymore.
Research has consistently shown people tend to become socially isolated when they have unaided hearing loss. Modern hearing aids are designed to highlight speech in a variety of listening environments so that you can stay engaged. They also offer intuitive connectivity options to optimize listening with landline and cell phones.
Wearing hearing aids wards off mental decline
Great research in recent years from Johns Hopkins, the National Institute on Aging, and other reputable sources has highlighted the correlation between detrimental changes in the brain and unaided hearing loss. They have identified faster loss of brains tissue and marked differences in brain structure in older adults with hearing loss than those without.
Hearing aids make sounds in the environment audible, speech clearer, and music more enjoyable so that you can engage in the hobbies and physical exercises that keep your body and mind active. When you do not have to worry that you won’t hear an approaching car or doorbell ring, can freely hear and understand the conversation around you, and can enjoy the sounds of nature and beautiful music, cognitive load and stress decrease. In fact, there are now hearing aids that have been proven with brainwave studies to reduce the mental effort required for listening.
Wearing hearing aids reduces the risk of falls
Falls are responsible for numerous injuries and deaths among Americans 65 and older. Studies show that people with even a mild hearing loss were nearly three times likelier to have a history of falling than those without hearing loss, and with increasing hearing loss this risk rises accordingly. Hearing loss reduces awareness of your surrounding environment and increases cognitive load, which in turn leads to a greater risk of falling.
Hearing aids allow you to better hear sounds such as oncoming traffic, and also quickly locate where these warning sounds are coming from. When you don’t have to concentrate hard simply to hear your conversation partner while taking a walk, you are also more likely to notice the broken pavement on the path in front of you.
Wearing hearing aids reduces the risk of depression
Research has also reinforced the correlation between untreated hearing loss and depression. This is largely due to the social isolation we discussed earlier. Those who give up trying to hear and communicate cut themselves off from social activities. They may think their hearing loss cannot be helped, or that it is a sign of age and indication to stop participating in life. These negative changes all increase the risk of depression, especially in women.
Fortunately, plenty of research also show us the counter-effects of hearing aids against depression. Amplification via hearing aids not only improved the hearing abilities of study participants, it also showed positive effects on anxiety, depression, overall health status, and general quality of life.
So, this Healthy Aging Month, do yourself a favor and visit a hearing care professional. Extend your youth and keep your life vibrant by improving your hearing health.