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CITYOFLONDON HEALTH NEWS

Wednesday December 18 2019

Defeating Christmas Loneliness for the Hearing Impaired




Defeating Christmas Loneliness for the Hearing Impaired

For many, Christmas is a time that brings families and friends together. However, research shows people suffering from hearing loss are most likely to feel anxious and slip into social isolation as they no longer feel involved in the conversation. And, during the festive season, feelings are heightened as it can become the loneliest time of the year.

To tackle and encourage families and loved ones with hearing impairments to stay connected during the festive season, The Hearing Care Partnership (THCP) Head Audiologist Melanie Gregory delves into the effects of social isolation and top advice to help sufferers defeat feelings of loneliness.  

Hearing loss can develop into loneliness, as those who experience loss of hearing begin to stay at home rather than risk a social situation where they will inevitably miss out on snippets of conversation or even miss-hear and fear they’ll say the wrong thing. People who have hearing loss may find that crowded environments with background noise are the most difficult places to hear speech, and those who were quite outgoing can quickly become more insular.

Depression

For someone suffering moderate hearing loss, it’s three times as likely to experience depression and five times more likely if you have a severe hearing loss. Becoming more isolated, seeing less of our friends and not doing the things we love can lead to mental health issues like depression.  ONS research shows it has a measurable impact on your overall health, equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Dementia

People with hearing loss are also more at risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Hearing has been identified as the most significant modifiable risk factor for dementia ahead of hypertension and obesity. Research from Action on Hearing Loss shows those who were obese had a 66% increased risk of suffering hearing loss for mid-frequency sounds than healthy-weight adults.

Balance and preventing falls

Our eyes and ears work together to help us stay balanced and steady on your feet. However, if one of those senses is impaired, our chances of falling increases.

Research suggests that the less you can hear, the less you move. Known as cognitive load, this is when so much attention and brain energy is spent on trying to hear, leaving the brain with less energy overall.

With better hearing results, people are more likely to do more, feel more confident, stay physically active and are less prone to developing chronic health conditions such as diabetes, stroke and cognitive decline.  

It’s never too late to make changes to the way you live. Combining having regular hearing tests every year, here are three tips to get you started and avoid slipping into social isolation.

Stay active: Just 30 minutes of activity a day can help promote mobility and health in later life. A brisk winter walk is highly recommended.

Eat healthily: Choose a healthy Mediterranean diet packed with fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, low salt and sugar content, and not too much meat.

Stay connected: Do things that give you joy and meaning, whether that’s playing tennis, taking up photography, or visiting places you love. All of these things help you to feel more positive. By looking after our eyes and ears, we can be ready for whatever comes our way — seeing things more clearly. Hearing and being heard. And enjoy more of the people and things that we love.

For many, Christmas is a time that brings families and friends together. However, research shows people suffering from hearing loss are most likely to feel anxious and slip into social isolation as they no longer feel involved in the conversation. And, during the festive season, feelings are heightened as it can become the loneliest time of the year.

To tackle and encourage families and loved ones with hearing impairments to stay connected during the festive season, The Hearing Care Partnership (THCP) Head Audiologist Melanie Gregory delves into the effects of social isolation and top advice to help sufferers defeat feelings of loneliness.  

Hearing loss can develop into loneliness, as those who experience loss of hearing begin to stay at home rather than risk a social situation where they will inevitably miss out on snippets of conversation or even miss-hear and fear they’ll say the wrong thing. People who have hearing loss may find that crowded environments with background noise are the most difficult places to hear speech, and those who were quite outgoing can quickly become more insular.

Depression

For someone suffering moderate hearing loss, it’s three times as likely to experience depression and five times more likely if you have a severe hearing loss. Becoming more isolated, seeing less of our friends and not doing the things we love can lead to mental health issues like depression.  ONS research shows it has a measurable impact on your overall health, equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Dementia

People with hearing loss are also more at risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Hearing has been identified as the most significant modifiable risk factor for dementia ahead of hypertension and obesity. Research from Action on Hearing Loss shows those who were obese had a 66% increased risk of suffering hearing loss for mid-frequency sounds than healthy-weight adults.

Balance and preventing falls

Our eyes and ears work together to help us stay balanced and steady on your feet. However, if one of those senses is impaired, our chances of falling increases.

Research suggests that the less you can hear, the less you move. Known as cognitive load, this is when so much attention and brain energy is spent on trying to hear, leaving the brain with less energy overall.

With better hearing results, people are more likely to do more, feel more confident, stay physically active and are less prone to developing chronic health conditions such as diabetes, stroke and cognitive decline.  

It’s never too late to make changes to the way you live. Combining having regular hearing tests every year, here are three tips to get you started and avoid slipping into social isolation.

Stay active: Just 30 minutes of activity a day can help promote mobility and health in later life. A brisk winter walk is highly recommended.

Eat healthily: Choose a healthy Mediterranean diet packed with fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, low salt and sugar content, and not too much meat.

Stay connected: Do things that give you joy and meaning, whether that’s playing tennis, taking up photography, or visiting places you love. All of these things help you to feel more positive. By looking after our eyes and ears, we can be ready for whatever comes our way — seeing things more clearly. Hearing and being heard. And enjoy more of the people and things that we love.



"By looking after our eyes and ears, we can be ready for whatever comes our way seeing things more clearly. Hearing and being heard. And enjoy more of the people and things that we love. "
Melanie Gregory, Head Audiologist at THCP








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