The ability to communicate is something that most of us take for granted. We do not realize how much we rely on being able to hear our family, our friends, our work colleagues and the people in our communities until we can no longer hear them.

We thrive on making these social connections, and when that connection is broken (which can happen with hearing loss), it is not just our physical health that is affected, but our mental health too.

How can hearing loss impact your social connections?

Hearing loss is a significant indicator of social isolation and living with untreated hearing loss raises the risk of alienation and depression. When your hearing was unaffected, you more than likely left the house most days, going out for lunch or coffee with a friend, went out for dinner with relatives, enjoyed hobbies, parties and a relatively active social life.

However, as your hearing began to deteriorate, you probably found it harder to communicate with your family and friends. You may well have felt embarrassed or self-conscious about asking them to constantly repeat themselves and still not being able to hear them. 

It is particularly noticeable in noisy situations, which of course many social events are – lots of background chatter and music can make it even more difficult to focus on and hear particular sounds. The effort that it takes just to engage in a standard face to face conversation can cause massive amounts of fatigue and stress.

In turn, this leads to saying no to social invitations and choosing to stay at home instead of facing the challenges that hearing loss can cause. As the hearing loss continues to worsen, the isolation deepens and can cause significant mental health issues. Many people who experience social isolation have reduced mobility and are at risk of earlier onset Alzheimer's disease or dementia. 

Treating hearing loss and preventing social isolation

Once you have broken those social connections, it can be very difficult to reconnect. Of course, getting hearing loss dealt with as soon as it becomes noticed or is picked up during a routine hearing check is essential for helping you to stay socially connected. A hearing instrument specialist can talk you through the different options available to you to help improve your hearing and help to bolster your social connections.

What are the options available?

Of course, it depends on the extent of your hearing loss, amongst other things, but generally, there are three options: behind the ear (BTE), in the ear (ITE) and in the canal (ITC).

A BTE hearing aid is one of the most popular hearing aids, and it sits behind the ear of the wearer. The case behind the ear contains the microphone and receiver which detect, and process sounds, before sending them down a tube over the top of the ear. It is one of the more visible hearing aids but has the best battery life and more features because of the size of it. 

ITE hearing aid sits inside of the ear. It is one of the most conspicuous types of hearing aids, with many people never being able to spot someone wearing it. The small size does limit the features and the battery life can be shorter than BTE’s. They fit in the ear and do pretty much the same job as the BTE, albeit it on a smaller and more discreet scale.

ITC hearing aids are an even smaller version of the ITE and sit further down in the ear canal. They are trickier for anyone who has issues with dexterity as they are so small, and the small battery size means more frequent changing. However, they are custom fit for your ear and are incredibly discreet – no one will ever realize that you are wearing a hearing aid.

Get in touch with The Center for Better Hearing

You might not be able to put your finger on the moment when your hearing loss caused you to disconnect with your community. You may not be able to turn back time and prevent the hearing loss from happening in the first place. What you can do, however, is get in touch with our team of hearing instrument specialists at Center for Better Hearing and learn about what you can do to get your hearing back on track. Call us today at 510-768-7091.