Do you have trouble hearing? Are you willing to admit it? It turns out that only a fraction of people with hearing loss acknowledge it, and an even smaller portion actually get hearing aids.
Addressing hearing loss comes with social benefits (including less nagging from your spouse!) as well as health benefits. We’d like to highlight the importance of hearing well, not only for your social well-being, but also for your overall health.
There is a huge portion of the human brain, an entire ‘cortex’ actually, devoted to the interpreting and processing of speech and sound. As with any other muscle, though, if you don’t use it, you lose it! Neural pathways– the “roads” along which sounds travels– need to be worked out like a muscle, and continually strengthened in order to keep working.
If you reach a point where you can no longer hear at high frequencies, then the high-frequency pathways will diminish and eventually atrophy. This means that it is best to intervene as soon as you suspect you may have hearing loss! The atrophication of these pathways often affects neighboring pathways– like those controlling memory. Thus, hearing loss greatly increases the risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s– conditions of recall and memory. Early intervention at the first sign of hearing loss is essential to keeping your clear mind and sharp wit, even into old age.
There has long been a link between hearing loss and depression. This is due to a pretty straightforward mechanism, wherein hearing loss leads to social impairment, which leads to withdrawal, which leads to depression due to lack of normalized social interaction.
Neglecting any perceived hearing loss can lead to this sort of withdrawal (and its accompanied frustration) sometimes without someone even consciously linking the two events. It’s important to address any social impairment due to hearing difficulties as soon as they occur– it’s better to question it now, get a hearing test, and be okay than to ignore it for another half-a-dozen years, meanwhile frustrating yourself, your family, and your friends. Let yourself continue to be happy by addressing this issue!
This one is a bit trickier– putting hearing aids into your ears will not automatically make you super svelte or buff. Instead, this goes hand-in-hand with mental health. Improving your hearing can often open new doors, sometimes doors you hadn’t even realized were closed! Some first-time hearing aid users have reported greater social savvy and have embraced musically-inclined activities like ballroom or swing dancing, or group sports where they can actually hear the plays being called, and have thus improved physical well-being.
While the most obvious reason to get hearing aids is the socio-personal benefit, some of the truly convincing health advantages – across all aspects of health – can be the most convincing. Do it for yourself, but also for your body and mind!