Ignoring a Hearing Loss
There are a number of reasons why someone may choose to ignore or delay treating a hearing loss.
Sometimes it’s pride, sometimes it’s finances. Sometimes it’s just lack of information or lack of the right counseling. And then again, sometimes it’s just plain stubbornness! 😉
But it doesn’t matter what the cause of delaying is, the result is the same: a general decrease in overall wellness and psychological well-being.
General Effects of an Untreated Hearing Loss
- avoiding social situations
- feeling lonely or excluded
- strain, stress and tension
- growing irritability
- risk of cognitive decline
- decreased awareness of surroundings
The psychological effects of untreated hearing loss cannot be overstated. We are social creatures that rely heavily on visual and auditory cues for communication.
Once we stop hearing well, we stop participating in conversations and social exchanges. Once hearing becomes a barrier, socializing becomes difficult and the individual experiences a greater and greater sense of isolation. Usually either frustration or embarrassment (or both) will set in and the individual may begin actively avoiding social situations all together.
The less we participate in the day-to-day around us, the less we feel connected, relevant, or important. A certain level of depression or lowered mood almost always follows.
Effects on Cognition
It has been shown that those with untreated hearing loss are at higher risk for cognitive decline, such as Alzheimer’s Disease. The connection between good hearing and a healthy, active brain may not be immediately obvious, but remember that your brain is a calculating device, and calculators love input.
Your brain takes in input in the form of signals (such as tactile, visual or auditory stimuli). It processes them, and then spits out an appropriate action or response. But what happens when you stop giving your brain those signals, or if the stimuli are garbled and can’t be made sense of?
In almost all areas of sensory processing, the less you give your brain, the less it wants to “bother” anymore. That means that the less your hearing is clear and consistent, the less your brain will bother trying to interpret the signals at all. It gets sort of “lazy” in that area as it begins putting greater focus and priority on other stimuli.
The good news is that it’s never too late to experience the positive effects of wearing a hearing aid. While the hearing itself will improve, so too does overall mood and daily function.