Approximately one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 face hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing, and age-related hearing loss is quite common. Not only does it impact one’s hearing, it is also a debilitating condition that leads to isolation and declines in overall health and well-being.
On top of all that, researchers at the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center at Columbia University have now found that hearing loss is associated with an increased risk of premature death. Results of the study were published in Social Science and Medicine.
What the Study Shows
Columbia Aging Center faculty Vegard Skirbekk, PhD, points out that “Old age greatly increases the risk for hearing loss…therefore, as the population ages, we are seeing increasing numbers of people with hearing loss. At the same time, there are greater numbers of adults living without a partner — putting people with hearing loss at an increased risk for death.”
The study revealed that this elevated risk is highest in men and women who are divorced or separated and is diminished in those with a partner who hears well. Those without partners or children faced higher accident-related deaths. Researcher Bo Engdahl of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health believes this “may be due to a greater fatality from traffic-related incidents, for instance, as family members otherwise may have helped to prevent many of these deaths through warnings or preventive action.”
Association between Hearing Loss and Premature Death
Both researchers believe that the link between hearing loss and mortality lies within the level of support one may have. During times of illness, those with close relationships have more support than those with weaker ties. Having a strong network helps an individual with hearing loss be more socially active, as they provide support, take initiative, and help the person with hearing loss overcome communication barriers.
Having a support circle like family or friends heightens the use of technical support, such as hearing devices, and pushes the person with hearing loss to seek hearing health services when necessary. Having a partner or loved one around also serves as a buffer against detrimental economic consequences of hearing loss.
Support Groups for Hearing Loss
If you are facing hearing loss and have a strong network of family, friends, or a close knit community to assist you through the process of seeking treatment for hearing loss, that is great news. If you don’t have such networks while facing hearing loss, know that you don’t have to face the problem all by yourself. The good news is there are an abundance of hearing loss support groups all over the country, many of them close by. You’ll find engaging people, loads of resources, social and educational activities, and emotional support that can fill the voids you may be experiencing. Hearing loss support groups are lifelines so utilize them.
Benefits of Support Groups
Even if you have a strong network of family and friends to support you, support groups have much to offer that you might not be able to get anywhere else. Those within your local support group are going through the same thing you are; there is a sense of camaraderie. On a larger institutional level, most states have their own organizations on deafness or hearing loss that provide advocacy and education for those facing hearing loss.
More likely than not, you’ll find support groups in your locality that hold regular meetings, facilitate workshops, or put on conventions revolving around hearing loss. Through such meetings, you have access to speakers, social events, and online platforms such as Facebook groups, where you can make connections with other people sharing your experience.
Perhaps most important part of support groups is that it could lead you to become your own advocate. The resources and reinforcements you gain can build your confidence and enhance your knowledge on how to better improve your hearing health.
Take the Steps towards Improving Your Hearing Health Today
If you or someone you know is facing hearing loss and does not have the needed support to improve hearing health, reach out to us at Audibel. Our specialists will provide you with the necessary resources to improve your hearing health today.