A new study has found that most patients suffering from hearing loss prefer to live with the condition as it is, rather than seek out treatment. The problem is that this approach can easily lead to depression, and even dementia, adding a mental condition to the existing physical one.
David Myers, psychology professor from Hope College (Michigan), gave a statement saying that “Many hard-of-hearing people battle silently with their invisible hearing difficulties, straining to stay connected to the world around them, reluctant to seek help”. He is uniquely qualified to talk about the subject as he himself is suffering from hearing loss.
Even though hearing aids have proven to be efficient in amplifying certain sounds so that they become clearer to the wearer and improve their communication skills, many of the patients refuse to use such devices.
Statistically speaking, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that not even 30 percent (30%), or one in three (1 in 3), hearing loss patients with the age of 70 or over have ever tried using a hearing aid.
As for the younger group, the NIDCD informs that only 16 percent (16%) of hearing loss patients between the age of 20 and 69 have tried using a hearing aid.
Professor Myers wasn’t any different. His hearing loss started when he was just a teenager, but he waited until the age of 40 to buy his first hearing aid and get the treatment he needed.
The National Center for Health Statistics informs that patients generally wait to treat themselves “an average of 6 years” after experiencing the first signs of the condition.
One working theory is that they refuse treatment because they want to feel normal and believe that they can navigate the world without hearing aids. But they may also be in denial of their condition, have too much vanity, or simply be unaware of how much the condition is affecting their hearing.
This is a dangerous practice as the National Council on Aging has conducted a new study which showed that hearing loss often leads to depression and dementia if left untreated.
The research team looked at 2.304 patients suffering from the condition and noticed that those who refused to use hearing aids had 50 percent (50%) more of a chance of developing depression, and were much less likely to regularly take part in social activities, when compared to patients who did use hearing aids.
And the danger does not end there as social isolation increases the chances of developing dementia.
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) informs that 15 percent (15%) of American adults have some kind of problem related to their hearing. The number adds up to about 37.5 million people.
The findings were presented at the end of last week, on Sunday (Augurs 9, 2015), at the 123rd Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (Toronto, Canada).