By Belinda Gonzales, Owner, NuSound Hearing Center
It’s been called the most wonderful time of year. We watch movies where the families gather for the perfect meal, looking great and without conflict. We are told that we are to be joyful and full of good cheer and, yet, according to the National Institute of Health, Christmas is the time of year that many experience a high incidence of depression.
“Holiday blues are a pretty common problem despite the fact that, as a society, we see the holidays as a joyous time,” says Rakesh Jain, MD, director of psychiatric drug research at the R/D Clinical Research Center in Lake Jackson, Texas. “Many people feel depressed, which can be due to the increased stress that comes with the need to shop and the decreased time to exercise which gets put on the back burner during the holidays.”
The Holidays Can Be Difficult on
Family Members with Hearing Loss
What you might not know is that the holidays can be especially difficult on your family members that have hearing loss. According to a 1999 study by The National Council on the Aging (NCOA), untreated hearing loss in older adults has serious emotional and social consequences.
“This study debunks the myth that untreated hearing loss in older persons is a harmless condition,” said James Firman, EdD, president and CEO of the NCOA. The survey found that of the 2,300 hearing impaired adults studied, those with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report issues with depression, anxiety, and paranoia and were less likely to participate in organized social activities.
The American Academy of Audiology stated in an article that “the survey found that significantly more of the seniors with untreated hearing loss (those who do not wear hearing aids) reported feelings of sadness or depression that lasted two or more weeks during the previous years.” The article also stated that “because social isolation is a serious problem for some older people, the study also examined social behavior and found that people who don’t use hearing aids are considerably less likely to participate in social activities.”
Unaddressed Hearing Loss Can
Lead to Isolation and Depression
“The holiday season is meant to be a time of thanks, celebration, and joy,” says Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Better Hearing Institute. “But for many people, it is a time of year when unaddressed hearing loss can cause them to feel particularly isolated and depressed. Even when surrounded by loved ones, a family member’s impaired ability to hear and actively participate in conversation cuts them off. Oftentimes, they are left with a sense of sadness, inadequacy, and emotional isolation. This is especially true when the hearing loss is either unrecognized or is being ‘hidden’ by the family member with hearing loss.”
So as you gather with family this year, be especially vigilant if you see an older family member is quiet at dinners. Maybe they can’t hear you. You might be the help they need in reconnecting to the family again.
Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss
The signs and symptoms of hearing loss you can watch for, according to the Better Hearing Institute, are “not being able to hear well in a crowded room or restaurant, having trouble hearing children and women, keeping the television or radio turned up to a high volume, needing to ask family and friends to repeat what they’re saying, or experiencing ringing in the ears.”
Regain the Gift of Sound
“When a family member experiences unaddressed hearing loss, it silently erodes the loved one’s quality of life—undermining family relationships, interfering with short-term memory, and creeping into virtually every aspect of daily living,” says Kochkin. “The good news is there are solutions to help loved ones with hearing loss regain the gift of sound so they don’t need to draw back in silence. Hearing loss can be easily diagnosed, and there are modern-day solutions that can help people hear better.”
Everyone deserves to hear the fire crackling and the kids laughing. Since hearing loss can be a slow, gradual process, many do not know how much they are missing. Your loved one may seek help and realize all the sounds of Christmas they have been missing out on because of your vigilance and concern this holiday season. What better gift could you possibly give someone? Please call one of our NuSound offices. In Kansas City, call 913-232-7754; in Topeka, call 785-783-8121. Or, visit us online at www.NuSoundHearing.com.