Research shows: ignoring hearing loss damaging on psychological and social level

Hearing loss is very often underestimated– it takes people several years to take the step to go to an audiologist. Now research shows that especially men within their fifties underestimate the impact of hearing loss on their quality of life – with all its consequences, including an increased risk of psychological problems and barriers at a social level. Although four out of five men (81%) are made aware of their hearing loss by their relatives, they take no action.

Quality of life under pressure
After becoming aware of and accepting hearing loss, on average, men wait two years before seeking help. At that time, their hearing has already been steadily deteriorating and ‘discarded’ for years. Respondents indicate that hearing loss leads to, among other things, misunderstandings, incomprehension, frustration and irritation – both at work and at home.

“This means that men let their lives be influenced by these discomforts – possibly unwittingly – for at least two years. What many men do not realise when procrastinating in this way is that the consequences of hearing impairment go far beyond the condition itself. In general, the hard of hearing have more frequent health problems over time and experience feelings of loneliness and social isolation more often. They also experience a lack of emotional support and feel more excluded from family life more often.”René van der Wilk, a psychologist specialising in the audiology sector

Men stick their heads in the sand
Men are currently younger than women when they begin losing their hearing. One of the reasons for this is a lack of ear protection in their working past. However, as many as 50% prioritise other health-related issues and ignore their hearing loss for a long time. Most of them find their loss of hearing insufficient to need a hearing aid – without consulting a hearing expert. By dealing with hearing loss earlier on, you can stop the decline and get to grips sooner with the psychological and emotional impact.

“Hearing loss in the elderly is actually an invisible handicap that has a tremendous (psychological) impact. This is worrying when you consider that in The Netherlands 1.5 million people are hard of hearing (10% of the population). Dealing with a hearing problem early on prevents social isolation, making it easier to remain a communicative participant in society. Ideally, hearing care professionals should be consulted earlier and the average age for buying a hearing aid (72 years old) could drastically be reduced in the coming years.”Dr ir J.A.P.M. de Laat, clinical physicist and audiologist attached to LUMC (Leiden University Medical Centre) in the Netherlands

Improvements after dealing with hearing loss
48 percent of men with recognised hearing problems in the 55+ age category do not wear a hearing aid. While men with a hearing aid, who acted within six months after recognising their hearing loss, enjoy life significantly more (20% increase) than when they still had hearing difficulties. They also find that relationships with colleagues and managers have improved (increase of 13%) and that it is easier to relax (15% increase).

Men who did not acknowledge their hearing loss for a long time (18-24 months) notice a significant improvement in interaction with their environment once they use a hearing aid. After using a hearing aid, men had less…

1. …issues with asking for a question to be repeated (29% improved)
2. …trouble with misunderstandings (28% improved)
3. …trouble with frustration at not being understood (28% improved)
4. …trouble understanding women and children (27% improved)
5. …irritation in the domestic sphere (27% improved)

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