If there’s one thing we can all agree on about this pandemic, it’s that it’s been an incredibly lonely time. From closures of bars and restaurants to cancellation of social events, and from social distancing to full quarantine, most of us have suffered from increased feelings of loneliness over the past two years. This is especially true for people with hearing loss, for whom communication through masks is especially challenging.
Loneliness Vs. Social Isolation
Before diving into this topic, it’s important to tease apart the differences between loneliness and social isolation.
Social isolation occurs when someone doesn’t have much social contact. This is a measurable factor, as you can tally up how many social interactions a person has per day.
Loneliness, on the other hand, is a feeling. You can feel lonely whether you’re home by yourself or in a bustling crowd. You can also feel fulfilled with few social interactions or crave more. Loneliness is essentially the gap between the amount of connections you actually have compared to how many you’d like to experience.
There’s no doubt that, for many, hearing loss leads to fewer social interactions, which can in turn spark feelings of loneliness.
The Loneliness Epidemic
The U.S. was experiencing a loneliness epidemic long before COVID-19 hit our shores.
In February of 2021, a report from Making Caring Common stated that 36% of all Americans experience serious loneliness. This is especially true for people with hearing loss; one frequently-cited study found that for each decibel decrease in hearing perception, the odds of developing severe loneliness increases by 7%.
This can have serious impacts. According to the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), loneliness may be as damaging to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The CDC reports that it increases rates of depression, anxiety and suicide.
The Importance of Treating Hearing Loss
While more research is needed on how hearing aids can help alleviate feelings of loneliness, many experts have shared anecdotal evidence about how hearing aids change their patients’ lives for the better.
This is because hearing aids make communication easier. And when you can hear without having to strain or ask people to repeat themselves, you’re much more likely to rejoin activities you once loved, like Paint and sip Augusta. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call Augusta - Aiken ENT & Allergy today.