What can hearing rehabilitation do for me?
How audiology improves quality of life
1. Give you more energy: if you have an untreated hearing loss, you spend a lot of energy just trying to listen every day. A hearing aid and good communication strategies can reduce that effort, and free up some of your energy to use elsewhere in your life.
2. Keep you connected: untreated hearing loss, which may gradually deteriorate over years, can lead people to start withdrawing from social situations, as it is not fun to constantly miss the joke, or to "fake it" or pull the good ol' "nod-n-smile". Eventually, it becomes easier to stay at home than to attend a function, so people withdraw from social interaction, leading to long-term isolation and loneliness. Strong social connections, laughter, exercise, and activity have been shown to keep the brain young.
3. "You've saved my marriage!" Audiologists are not marriage counsellors, but we recieve pretty strong positive feedback from our patients' significant others, and family members. Hearing loss becomes a "third party" disability for the friends and family of the person with a hearing loss, which over years, can lead to frustration.
4. Staying relevant (and well-compensated!) in the workplace: You don't want to miss out on speech in the workplace. At best, you might miss a joke or a side comment in a meeting. At worst, someone may be speaking to you and you're not aware they're there, or you may hear what they've said incorrectly, leading to all sorts of miscommunication adventures. Hearing aids have been shown to mitigate loss of income due to hearing loss by 90%-100% for people with mild hearing loss, and 65%-77% for people with moderate to severe hearing losses (Kochkin, 2010).
5. Relief from Tinnitus: If your tinnitus is related to hearing loss - and it most often is - a properly fitted set of hearing aids will, for approximately 90% of people, reduce the perception of the tinnitus while you're wearing the aids. For a small percentage of people, this relief lasts even after the hearing aids are taken out - this is called "residual inhibition". It is very important to first rule out other medical causes of tinnitus, so see an audiologist who is trained to know if you need further assessment.
6. Improved Quality of Life: For many elderly people with untreated hearing loss, it is so difficult to communicate appropriately that they eventually avoid social situations, which leads to isolation over the long term. Depression can follow. Research has shown that wearing properly fitted hearing aids and adopting appropriate communication strategies can help improve the social and emotional impact of hearing loss, as well as increase communication and decrease self-reports of depressive symptoms.