Hearing loss affects an estimated 48 million Americans, but despite its prevalence, only one in five people who could benefit from hearing aids actually wears them. Many cite cost and stigma of “looking old” as reasons for putting off wearing hearing devices, but these people are likely unaware of all the benefits hearing aids offer, aside from boosting hearing ability. Below are some of the unexpected ways hearing aids can help increase your quality of life.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and at the National Institute on Aging have established a strong link between hearing loss and risk of falling. Even having mild hearing loss means you’re three times more likely to experience a fall than someone with normal hearing. For every additional 10 dB of hearing loss, this chance increases by 140 percent.
This is likely because people who can’t hear well have less awareness of what’s going on around them, and also because the brain allocates more cognitive resources toward making out sounds, leaving your balance system with less to work with. Researchers hypothesize that hearing aids can help with both these issues.
Decreasing Risk of Dementia
The same team at Johns Hopkins also identified that older adults with hearing loss are more likely to experience dementia than those without. This is likely due to a combination of the brain using most of its power to help you hear and also because people with hearing loss are more likely to be socially withdrawn, a well-known risk factor for dementia.
Hearing aids help you communicate more easily, meaning you’ll feel more confident interacting with your friends and enjoying your favorite hobbies. This mental stimulation is key to preventing dementia and other forms of cognitive decline.
Improving Financial Situation
Researchers have found that wearing hearing aids can actually improve your bottom line. A survey of 40,000 U.S. households by the Better Hearing Institute found that people with untreated hearing loss make around $12,000 less annually compared to normal-hearing colleagues. People with untreated hearing loss are also about twice as likely to be unemployed than people with normal hearing. For those who wear hearing aids, this gap is significantly smaller. For more information or to talk to an audiologist about being fit with hearing aids, call the Hearing & Balance Center at Charleston ENT & Allergy today.