Hearing Aids for Emotional Wellbeing
Too many people deal with hearing loss by turning up the TV or accusing others of mumbling. This is classic denial behavior. I see it in my patients all the time, and it creates real problems for the person with hearing loss, as well as their family members.
But there are good solutions—so hear me out.
Denial Is Dangerous
Because hearing loss comes on gradually, it’s often hard to recognize that it’s happening. So, folks turn the TV or radio up louder. They tell people that they’re speaking too softly or mumbling.
They find something or someone to blame instead of acknowledging that there might be a problem with their hearing.
That’s called denial. And if that’s you, I have one word for you: stop.
And a prescription: get a checkup.
I’m insistent on this, because people who have hearing difficulty may be at risk of a brain tumor. Sure, this risk is very low, but it’s always best to rule out the worst case scenario. More often the biggest problem with hearing loss is the social isolation and increased risk of depression that can occur. The harder it is to hear, the more frustrating interactions with people—and the world—become.
Isolation Can Harm Your Health
At first, a person with hearing problems may notice that they can’t understand what is being said by their children or grandchildren at family events. All too often, hearing loss ultimately leads to a slow and painful withdrawal from life. People with impaired hearing tend to venture out less and less often, losing touch with friends and family, with culture, with the arts, with nature.
We all know how enriching those “feel good” moments are.
Well, guess what?
Feeling good is medically good for you. The pleasure of a lively conversation or just a warm, loving moment with a friend stimulates production of my favorite natural “happy hormones,” the endorphins. When they flood your body, they’re giving you the best medicine anywhere, including some effects that reduce pain. Denying yourself that pleasure is like eating nothing but toast every meal. Boring, with sub-optimal nutritional content, and a very lonely outcome.
Terribly frustrating—but there is a simple solution.
Get a checkup—and then get a hearing aid.
You’ll need some time to get adjusted to it, like getting new glasses. But it won’t take long for you to hear more voices and more TV and radio than before. It will be as if the people and the world that were drifting away have returned.
Perfectly Good Hearing Aids: Affordable
Many patients I see are on a low or fixed income, so they often assume that a hearing aid will be beyond their means. (This is also a handy excuse for patients in denial, by the way.)
Some health insurance doesn’t cover the cost of hearing aids.
But here’s a bit of good news about the cost: wholesale stores like Costco and Sam’s Club and discount stores like Wal-mart have driven down the cost of hearing aids. They are now more affordable than ever.
And if your insurance policy includes a flexible spending account (FSA), hearing aids are considered a reimbursable expense. So that’s another option that may be helpful.
Denial of your hearing loss is harmful to your overall health
It’s detrimental to your well-being, quality of life, and your relationships with your family and friends.
Just visit your doctor and get tested. It may take a little bit of time and expense, but the payoff—the ability to hear all of life’s greatest sounds with crystal clarity—is more than worth it.
So listen up. Hear what I’m saying.
Last Updated: August 16, 2018
Originally Published: February 11, 2015