One of the problems that many people face as they get older is that they face increasing loneliness. Whereas the busy years of midlife were full of days with obligations, working hours, and supporting children, the years after retirement can be comparatively slow. For many this opportunity to slow down and enjoy life’s pleasures is a welcome change! And yet, the lack of scheduled obligations can mean that you need to seek out social connections intentionally.
When it comes to the possibility of loneliness in the golden years of life, the good news is that there are practical steps you can take to improve your social and family connections. In addition to seeking community involvement, making plans with your friends, and volunteering at a local charity, one way to lessen loneliness might come as a surprise. Getting treatment for hearing loss can actually reduce feelings of loneliness among seniors.
Let’s take a moment to consider how this connection works, the risks of loneliness in older age, and what you can do to build a connected and thriving life after retirement.
Hearing Loss and Loneliness
When you think of the problem of loneliness, your mind might gravitate to those who are disconnected from their families and communities, perhaps living alone in a place where they don’t have others to rely on. Although this circumstance can cause loneliness indeed, those who have untreated hearing loss can feel alone even when they are surrounded by others. The physical presence of other people can be helpful to keep loneliness at bay, but the inability to communicate with others can make it feel difficult to connect.
In fact, those who have untreated hearing loss often feel loneliest in a large group of people, such as a party or family gathering. Without an easy way to communicate, this feeling of loneliness can grow as the hearing loss becomes worse. Some people even take these feelings of loneliness as a reason to disengage further from their communities and loved ones. Rather than continuing to try to engage with others, these people can become socially isolated, preferring to avoid social contacts altogether.
Loneliness, Social Isolation, and Health
Although it comes as no surprise that loneliness is connected to poor mental health, a recent study found that feelings of loneliness are actually connected to poor physical health, as well. Part of this connection has to do with the immobility associated with social isolation. A person who stays at home is less likely to get physical activity through moving about the neighborhood, town, or city. This study even found an increased risk of mortality associated with those who report high levels of loneliness. Whereas so many public health crises are difficult to treat, loneliness is one that actually has solutions at hand.
Treatment for Hearing Loss and Social Connection
When a person with hearing loss receives treatment, communication can improve with strangers, friends, family members, and loved ones alike. These connections make it possible to build strong bonds with others, and the reduced feeling of anxiety around social events makes it possible to re engage. In this indirect manner, getting treatment for hearing loss is a way to reduce loneliness as well as the negative mental and physical health effects that are associated.
If you have a loved one who seems to be socially isolated due to untreated hearing loss, the time is now to encourage treatment. You can help facilitate the process of making an appointment with us to get a diagnostic hearing exam and to find out what hearing aids can best serve your loved one’s needs.
Helping your loved one get treatment comes with a wide range of benefits, but your own relationship can improve as a result. You might want to begin your conversation by simply talking about their experiences with hearing loss and social disconnection. When you ask them to share what they are going through, you can open the door to building a strong relationship once again.