A growing body of research indicates that people with untreated hearing loss may be at an increased risk of depression. Depression is a common mental disorder that affects an estimated 350 million people worldwide, according to the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH). Depression can be a devastating illness that can be successfully treated. Unfortunately, depression—like hearing loss—often goes unrecognized and untreated. People diagnosed with serious or terminal illnesses or facing disability for whatever reason experience the same stages as those facing hearing loss.
Because hearing loss, like depression is an invisible disability, hearing people do not equate hearing loss with other forms of loss. People often have difficulty in understanding the process people coming to terms with their hearing loss sufferers go through. Below we examine the five stages of grief that people often go through when suffering from hearing loss. With better understanding of these stages people can travel to the other side of grief to a place where they can treat their hearing and simultaneously their hearing.
The first stage of grief over hearing loss is denial. But that denial has farther reaching implications than simply being unable to hear; when seniors deny they have a hearing loss, they also deny treatment and subsequently deny the detrimental negative effects of hearing loss as well. Unfortunately, those negative effects can include depression, isolation, anger and cognitive decline. Why do so many seniors deny their hearing loss? To effectively treat hearing loss, a mix of psychological, physical and financial issues must first be overcome. A recent survey found the perception that hearing aids will somehow make people look old or weak is a significant factor in the denial of hearing loss and treatment. The thought of getting hearing aids to properly fit and function, and the cost of them are major factors causing people with hearing loss not to seek treatment.
Following denial comes anger. People often resent that they have to make changes in the way they relate and interact in the world. Family meals can become fraught occasions, as it is hard to interact in situations that once brought joy. The psychological effects of untreated hearing loss for both children and adults can include increased outbursts of anger, low self-confidence, frustration and embarrassment. Adults may experience periods of sadness and grieving as their ability to hear diminishes. They also may feel more fatigued, as the struggle to hear and understand can be physically exhausting.
After the anger has passed, it’s common to enter the bargaining stage and search for ways to restore normal hearing. Whether it’s a promise to wear ear protection while using heavy machinery or keeping your head phones turned down from now on, people try to make amends to save their hearing. Depending on the type of hearing loss you’re experiencing, the reality is you may never hear normally again. The good news is, that if your hearing loss is a sensorineural condition, as most cases are, you are most likely a perfect candidate for hearing aids.
It stands to reason that depression and hearing loss go hand-in-hand. People with hearing loss usually find communication difficult, and this can lead to stress, fatigue and social isolation.
Acceptance is the final stage of grief and the stage that can be the light at the end of the tunnel. Why does it take so long for our loved ones and us to seek help? On average, individuals with hearing loss wait seven years to seek help for their hearing. Think of all the missed moments and precious time that’s lost. Although today’s hearing aids cannot reverse hearing loss, they can minimize the effects it has on daily life.
Moments at work, at a restaurant, with loved ones, and more, all can be fuller and clearer with the help of hearing aids. Today’s hearing aids are not the hearing aids of older days. The leading-edge digital technology helps to reduce background noise and focus on exactly what you want to hear. These advanced little pieces of technology are designed to be inconspicuous and many are nearly invisible.
La Canada Hearing
At La Cañada Hearing Aids & Audiology we can help you find the right hearing aids for you and your lifestyle. Dr Kevin Ivory can help you stop grieving and get on a road to a full, healthy and happy life again!