Hearing loss is a common and natural part of aging, but if it’s untreated, it can affect your ability to converse with friends and family.
In fact, a recent study by Sweden’s University of Gothenburg found that seniors with untreated hearing loss often become less outgoing and more introverted because they have trouble hearing and connecting with others. The study involved 400 people between the ages of 80 and 98. Interestingly, researchers did not find a connection between being introverted and physical or cognitive difficulties – the change in personality was only associated with hearing loss.
“Hearing loss directly affects the quality of social situations,” said Dr. Anne Ingeborg, a licensed psychologist and one of the study’s researchers. “If the perceived quality of social interaction goes down, it may eventually affect whether and how we relate to others.”
This study demonstrates that it’s important to find hearing loss solutions since staying connected with others – especially loved ones – has been shown to be important for overall health.
Getting your hearing checked
If you think you or a family member has hearing loss, here’s what to know about the common process of getting your hearing checked and being fitted with hearing aids or other assistive listening devices:
- You should make an appointment with an audiologist. Getting tested for hearing loss is painless.
- Before you go, list any symptoms you have, and ask your loved ones if they’ve noticed any changes in your hearing.
- It’s also good to bring your medical history, which could include whether hearing loss runs in your family and any other key medical information, including medications you use, major surgeries, accidents, if you’re exposed to loud noise on the job and anything else that might prove helpful.
- During your first visit, you will fill out a case history form, which will require answering questions about your health history as well as your current symptoms and a description of your hearing loss.
- Many people like to bring a family member on their first audiologist visit, which is great if you’re nervous! A family member can also write down information for you and help you remember any questions you may have forgotten to ask.
- During your appointment, the audiologist or other hearing healthcare practitioner will talk with you first. Then, he or she will measure your hearing ability using pure tone testing and other assessments.
- The audiologist will measure your hearing threshold – the softest sound you can hear – and your hearing test will generate an audiogram.
- The audiologist or practitioner will combine the subjective information she or he has learned about you and your health with what the objective, technical results of the audiogram showed.
- She or he will explain the audiogram to you and tell you what it means about your hearing.
- In some instances, the audiologist will recommend you to a medical professional. Otherwise, he or she will work with you to figure out the next best steps to take to improve your quality of life with hearing loss, whether it’s getting hearing aids, trying a CapTel captioned telephone, working on communication tactics or all of the above.