The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 466 million people worldwide deal with some form of hearing loss and that number is expected to rise by 2050 to around 9 million! Part of the projection for this rise includes lack of access to services and misconceptions around hearing loss. However, many people know they have hearing loss for far too long before they act. In fact, it’s estimated that most people wait seven years up to a decade from the time they suspect they have a hearing loss till the time they seek treatment.
The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. These amazing electronic devices can amplify the sounds around you so you can communicate with added clarity as well as be more alert of your surroundings. However, for older adults- a demographic most affected by hearing loss, of those 70 or older, who could benefit from treatment, only 30 percent have ever tried hearing aids. Here are some common reasons why people often put off addressing hearing loss and why you should definitely seek out a hearing exam today.
It’s difficult to self-diagnose
One reason put off addressing a hearing loss is they are not aware they even have an issue. Hearing loss often comes on slowly over years. At first it can start out as the loss of certain pitches or tones, making it hard to hear certain consonants and follow speech. Parts of words and words in sentences go missing causing the person affected to fill in blanks which puts a strain on your brain and can be incredibly exhausting. Just because you aren’t aware of your impairment doesn’t mean it’s not already having devastating effects which can be difficult to reverse once they’ve gone undiagnosed for too long. This includes rifts in relationships, decreased success at work or school, chronic depression and even cognitive decline increasing the risk for developing dementia earlier in life. When people start using hearing aids it can take some time to get used to sounds that may have been lost for years, however, doing so gives your brain a chance to hear more clearly, making it easier to connect and communicate with all people across your life.
Denial and shame
Despite the many benefits of treatment, people often feel shame or denial around their impairment. They may feel as if they must hide it by pretending to hear what the other person may have said. However, this only fuels social anxiety and confusion, as you may respond incorrectly to a question or statement or seem disinterested or distracted. Even as it becomes harder and harder to hold conversations in person and over the phone, people still choose to ignore their hearing loss. This denial is often connected to a stigma of hearing loss being a condition which “only affects the elderly”—a sentiment which data shows is not true. Others are resistant to admit they have a hearing problem because it means admitting a disability. The good news is that in admitting and addressing a hearing loss you are not only opening the door for treatment to help lessen your symptoms but are able to ask for what you need around your hearing loss from others. This can make social situations at home and work feel less stressful and tiring—allowing you to communicate with increased clarity again.
Hearing aids take time to adjust to
For many with hearing loss, they may have tried hearing aids but were irritated upon using them. This occurrence is all too common and unfortunate because it means that people don’t have a full understanding of the process. Hearing aids are not like glasses. When you first put on a properly prescribed pair of eyeglasses your vision is instantaneously corrected. Hearing aids take time to get used to. For those of us that have waited 7 to 10 years, your brain does change over that time in what it is used to hearing. Sounds you haven’t heard in years may sound loud and jarring. Even your own voice may surprise you at first. To get the most out of hearing aids, give it time. Start with just a few hours at home and gradually work up to wearing them all the time over two weeks.
It’s amazing what hearing aids can do to empower you to live the life you love. To find out more, take the leap and contact us today to set up a hearing exam!