As one of our most important senses, the ability to hear enables us to connect to the world for many very important, vital, reasons. Most importantly, hearing connects us to people enabling us to communicate in a way that none of our other senses can achieve. As Helen Keller, once said, “Blindness cuts us off from things, but deafness cuts us off from people”.
One should not ignore or underestimate the impact on daily life of milder forms of hearing loss.
Hearing for communicating with people
Our ability to communicate with other people is heavily dependent on our ability to understand speech. This is one of the most complex sounds we have to listen to. Without good hearing in both ears, understanding what a person is saying needs more concentration. It can be very tiring, especially if several people are talking or there’s background noise.
Misunderstanding what’s been said can be very frustrating for both listener and speaker. Socializing with friends and family gatherings a difficult can be a far less pleasurable experience. Too often, this leads to avoiding such situations or increasing reliance on a partner or friend with better hearing.
Relationships can quickly begin to suffer with the strain of trying to cope with hearing loss. Some even experience a complete breakdown in communication when a hearing loss is allowed to go too far before seeking professional help and support.
Hearing for experiencing sounds around us
As important as communicating with other people certainly is, hearing matters for all the pleasure it can bring and the difference it can make to our quality of life. Listening to music, television and radio, going to the cinema or theater, attending a place of worship, going to meetings to learn or simply for pleasure as well as listening to the sounds of nature can all be affected by the state of hearing.
While we are all individuals and have different interests and needs, these sounds are part of enjoying life to the fullest extent.
Hearing and personal safety
Good hearing is extremely important for personal safety, and shouldn’t be taken for granted. We are often more likely to hear a potential threat to our safety before it becomes visible. Crossing the road on foot, driving a vehicle, responding to fire, smoke or intruder alarms at home, in the workplace or public buildings, and awareness of another person approaching who may mean us harm are all part of the daily, even constant, need for good hearing to protect our personal safety and physical well being.
We also need balanced hearing to know the direction from which a sound is coming. Anyone with better hearing in one ear than the other always has greater difficulty localizing sound and judging how far away it is. Very unbalanced hearing such as no hearing in one ear makes any sense of direction for sound impossible and could be a possible safety risk in some situations.
Hearing and working
People with hearing loss have a higher unemployment rates than that of the general population. Untreated hearing loss can have a number of consequences in the workplace. Many of those in work who are struggling with hearing loss get fewer promotions. They often work at a level below their skills, knowledge and experience.
Unfortunately, some people won’t disclose that they have hearing loss and use hearing aids. Legally, employers must make reasonable adjustments for those with any disability. You can reduce work stress by being open with an employer about any special needs. Professionally managing your hearing loss will make work much less stressful.
Hearing and mental health
Recent research highlights the connection between hearing loss and mental health. It’s clear that there is an association between unassisted hearing loss and cognitive decline and dementia. People who manage a number of lifestyle factors in midlife (between ages 40 to 65) including hearing loss can potentially reduce the risk of getting dementia, according to recent studies.
Untreated hearing loss adds to the brain’s cognitive load and can lead to social isolation and depression. Hearing tests should be a routine a part of healthcare, particularly after the age of 40.
If you or a family member think that you’re not hearing as well as you used to, call Schmidt’s Optical and Hearing™ at 772-286-4327 to schedule a free hearing evaluation with our Board Certified Hearing Aid Specialist.