When you think of hearing loss, your first thought is of you losing your hearing. You may picture yourself asking people more frequently to repeat themselves.
You see yourself slowly fading into silence. You won’t hear the annoying neighbor’s dog or early morning lawnmowers anymore.
You may even feel like you can get by without it as it progresses. It’s just your hearing. You can still get around and take care of yourself.
Your friends and family will understand. They love you no matter what.
But the face of untreated hearing loss is much more sinister. It weaves its way into your life in a manner that’s hard to recognize before it’s too late.
Let’s look at what studies show the typical person goes through with the progression of untreated hearing loss.
One of the first things you’ll notice is that people seem to get upset with you for no reason. They seem increasingly agitated when you ask them to repeat themselves. They start yelling at you automatically, assuming that you can’t hear them. Even your closest friends and family seem to get frustrated with you a lot.
You share their frustration. You don’t even realize it at first. You start getting more agitated when you can’t understand. You may even start to resent those around you for having conversations without you.
It becomes a back and forth. You have more arguments these days than you used to. Perhaps leading you to question who your real friends are.
Giving Up People and Things You Love
As the relationship stress grows, those with untreated hearing loss generally start to pull away from their families, friends, and activities they love. You prefer to be alone more.
You don’t want to feel like a burden. You don’t want to handle the stress of trying to communicate.
Even when you’re in a room full of people, you feel alone. People are talking around you but not with you. You zone out a lot.
You even fall asleep sometimes.
Trouble Remembering Small Things
As social interaction becomes more difficult, you avoid it when you can. The part of your brain that processes memories solves problems and learns new things gets weaker.
You slowly forget how to interact with people. You may develop social anxiety, depression or regular anxiety as a result. With less stimulation, you find yourself forgetting small things like:
- Why’d you come into this room again?
- Did you send that birthday card to your niece?
- Did you blow that candle out before going to bed?
- Why are you always misplacing your glasses?
Your anxiety about losing your memory makes the memory issues even worse.
Challenges Thinking Straight
You begin to find tasks that were once simple more challenging. Things like basic math and making a decision becomes a major effort.
You can’t learn to use new technologies or find things that have been moved.
It feels like people are rushing you. You think they’re getting frustrated. That makes it even harder to think and act at a normal pace.
Trouble Remembering the Big Things
By this stage, you may not be very aware that you can’t remember. You find yourself forgetting names and faces of people you’ve known for a long time. You forget how to get around in your own home.
You might even get lost walking in your own neighborhood. Some days you don’t know who you are.
This Isn’t How Aging Is Supposed to Be
Does this just sound like advanced aging? It doesn’t have to be.
This is what it looks like when someone with hearing loss doesn’t wear their hearing aid.
They’re 30% more likely to develop severe anxiety and depression. They’re more likely to isolate themselves from friends and family. They stop being active and doing things they love.
They’re 30% more likely to have arguments with loved ones. Hearing loss makes misunderstanding so much more common.
They’re 24% more likely to suffer from cognitive decline and dementia. That includes Alzheimer’s where a person forgets who they are, who others are and how to get around in familiar places.
But there is a silver lining. The simple act of wearing a hearing aid when you need one can help you live a happier and more active life.
Are you in denial about your hearing loss? Do you think you can just learn to live with it? You may be sacrificing more than you know.
Find an audiologist in your area and get your hearing tested. Continue to live the active life you love with your hearing.