This pandemic and the subsequent lockdown that ensued exposed many of the feelings of isolation. The sudden severing of connections between friends and family was a shock to many. The abruptness of this forced isolation paired with the confusion around coronavirus itself left many with feelings of frustration, anxiety, and fear.
Unfortunately, those who are experiencing hearing loss may be all too familiar with the previously mentioned feelings. People with “normal hearing” don’t think twice about having to communicate, but people who are hard of hearing don’t have this luxury. The continual focus that is required to communicate can be quite overbearing and fatiguing. This is similar to living in a foreign country having to speak a language that you’re unfamiliar with. Understanding a conversation is no longer a subconscious activity, one where you can listen into a conversation without even realizing it. Communication becomes an activity that needs your full attention because if you don’t, you risk falling behind and becoming even more confused. This confusion and the stress of having to stay constantly focused due to hearing loss can reduce one’s enjoyment in social situations, and ultimately stop people from seeking out any social interactions at all. It is this self-imposed “quarantine” to avoid the stresses of social interactions that leads to isolation.
Isolation is a dangerous phenomenon and there is robust evidence that increased social isolation can lead to serious health effects. According to the American Psychological Association, social isolation and loneliness can be twice as harmful as obesity and increases general health risks equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. These stats have yet to even mention depression associated with loneliness. Paired with loneliness, the feelings of depression can feel augmented and can worsen anxiety. The compounding of multiple other health effects caused by isolation can quickly develop into a negative cycle, which makes escaping isolation increasingly difficult.
Hearing aids offer a unique and effective solution to this multi-layered problem, as they tackle the root cause of isolation. As previously mentioned, isolation, as it relates to hearing loss, is due to the cognitive effort required to participate in social activities. By reducing the focus needed to communicate with others and the stress that one may associate with these environments we can effectively eliminate one’s isolation or depression. Encouraging new and positive social interactions through the use of hearing aids allows us to once again enjoy being social and ends one’s need to isolate from others. Choose to free yourself from the shadows of hearing loss. As we wait for this pandemic to pass we thankfully do not have to live in a depressive state of isolation-induced by hearing loss because hearing aids are readily available to restore upon us a sense of comfort in these uncomfortable times.