If you’ve treated your hearing loss with hearing aids, then you’re well aware of how many sounds you’d been missing. Your hearing aids reconnect you to the world around you, keeping you in touch with people and places.
If you were to compare your movement prior to getting your hearing aids to now, then you’d probably see a much wider area covered with the use of hearing aids. It’s no surprise to people who struggle with hearing loss that mobility is an issue. However, because hearing loss can be so isolating, people may not often discuss this issue.
A new study from Finland reveals what many people around the world with hearing loss have experienced: that untreated hearing loss may lead to mobility issues and thus a lower quality of life.
Study: Hearing Problems in Everyday Situations Confine People to Smaller Local Areas
In studies conducted by the University of Jyvaskyla and University of Tampere, 848 men and women (ages 75-90) were monitored for two years. At the beginning of the study, hearing abilities were measured. Researchers found that over the course of two years, “people who experienced hearing problems in different everyday situations moved less within their local area than those who considered their hearing to be good.” Furthermore, over the two-year period, “the people who were hard of hearing were more than twice as likely as others to limit their movement to nearby areas.”
According to one of the researchers, Hannele Polku, “We observed that older people with hearing problems have more limited life space, and that these problems lower their quality of life.”
How Untreated Hearing Loss Affects Everyday Life
Your sense of hearing is on every day, even while you’re sleeping. Hearing keeps us connected to our world, alerts us to danger (i.e. fire alarms and home security systems are all based on sound alerts), and makes sure that we are aware of our surroundings (i.e. car horns, ambulance sirens, etc.).
For those of us with hearing loss, we are well aware of how compromised hearing abilities can affect our lives. With the use of hearing aids, these abilities are restored, and our lives are more cohesive. Of course, this differs person to person, as our hearing abilities are highly subjective.
Hannele Polku says, “According to our study, audiometrically measured hearing alone is not a sufficient measure of how people experience their hearing problems and how these affect their everyday lives. For example, a person with many everyday social contacts and communication with others may feel that even a minor hearing loss may affect their everyday functioning. On the other hand, a person more inclined to enjoy domestic tasks carried out on one’s own doesn’t experience the same number of problems due to a change of similar degree in hearing.”
In other words, within this study alone, researchers took into account the relative experiences of people in regard to hearing loss and their daily activities. This is why it is important for all of us to be aware of our hearing abilities, and take steps to ensure our best hearing health.
Plan an Annual Hearing Test
As with physical medical examinations or eye exams, it is encouraged that people over the age of 50 begin to plan an annual hearing test in their healthcare regimen.
With hearing loss as the third most common medical condition, affecting two-thirds of people over the age of 65, it is not unlikely that we begin to develop hearing loss as we get higher in age. Hearing loss does not solely affect older Americans, however. Younger populations are at risk for hearing loss, due to exposure to loud music and sounds in daily life.
An annual hearing test ensures that your hearing abilities are being monitored, so that if changes are detected, we can work with you to find a hearing solution immediately.
Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss As Soon as Possible
On average, Americans tend to wait seven years from the time they first experience changes in their hearing until the time they decide to seek hearing treatment. It is important to address hearing loss as soon as it occurs, as hearing loss could bring many adverse effects to one’s everyday life.
In addition to problems with mobility and quality of life, untreated hearing loss could lead to a potential risk for dementia, depression, stress, and anxiety. It has also been linked to increased rates of falls and hospitalizations.