Hearing Loss Is a Social Problem: Deafness Is More than Physical

Are you straining to hear? Do your loved ones snap at you when you ask them to repeat themselves? It may be time for you to get a hearing test. Hearing loss is a common problem as we age. The National Institute on Aging estimates about one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 suffers hearing loss. For those over 75, more than half have trouble. There’s a hidden risk to hearing loss: isolation.

The American Academy of Audiology finds that untreated hearing loss can lead to depression. Some doctors ignore the signs of hearing loss, rationalizing, “You’re just getting older.” However, recent studies conducted by the National Council on Aging found that hearing-impaired adults age 50 and older reported higher levels of depression, anxiety and even paranoia than a non-hearing-impaired group. The study also found that those with untreated deafness were less likely to engage in social activities. This avoidance can create a cycle leading to even more depression.

Over-the-counter hearing aids don’t require a prescription and may help with mild hearing impairment. Better, ask your doctor to refer you to an audiologist, who can measure your hearing and fit you with hearing aids if needed. However, before you shop for hearing aids, check with your health insurer regarding coverage. Hearing aids are expensive. You may want to visit an audiologist who allows a trial period to see if the recommended hearing aids work.

Hearing loss can arise from other factors. Noise-induced hearing loss arises from long-term exposure to loud noises, such as military service or factory work. If you’re a veteran, visit your local Veterans Benefits Administration office for audiology services. If you suspect your hearing loss is work related, you may find treatment under your employer’s workers’ compensation coverage.

Don’t suffer in silence. Get hearing help to live the best life possible. Contact us if you have questions on what is covered by your medical insurance policy.