There’s one thing that’s for sure about this pandemic: it’s been a lonely time. This is especially true for people with hearing loss, for whom communication is made especially difficult due to masks blocking speech and preventing lipreading, physical distance making communication more difficult and the move to virtual platforms resulting in sound distortion.

Research on Loneliness

Silhouette of a man standing near a body of water outside at dusk.

According to a study published in February 2021 from Making Care Common, 36% of all Americans experience serious loneliness.

The rate among people with hearing loss is even higher. One frequently-cited study from 2009 reports that for every decibel decrease in hearing perception, the odds of developing severe loneliness increase 7%.

This can have serious impacts on wellness. The CDC reports that being lonely is associated with increased rates of anxiety, depression and suicide, and the Health Resources & Services Administration says severe loneliness can be as damaging to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Loneliness Vs. Social Isolation

There’s an important distinction between loneliness and social isolation.

  • Loneliness is a feeling. You can experience this feeling even when you’re standing in a crowd. Conversely, you can be all by yourself and not feel lonely at all. Loneliness can be thought of as the gap between the amount of connections you’d like to have compared to what you actually experience.
  • Social isolation occurs when someone doesn’t have many social contacts. This is a measurable factor, meaning you can tally up how many social interactions you have.

Treating Hearing Loss Can Prevent Loneliness & Social Isolation

While more research needs to be conducted on how hearing aids impact feelings of loneliness, experts posit there is much anecdotal evidence that hearing aids boost quality of life by improving social interactions.

When you can’t hear or communicate well, you’re more likely to withdraw from activities you once loved, like Bountiful Davis Art Center, instead preferring to stay home where you don’t risk mishearing anybody and responding inappropriately.

But when you begin to wear hearing aids, you gain more confidence in your communication abilities and are able to converse with greater ease. More social contact in many cases means reduced feelings of loneliness.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Bountiful Hearing Center today.