Isolation affects health. Individuals who are isolated experience little day-to-day contact with others, they have few relationships, and they do not possess a sense of belonging. A person who isolates themselves from others has a higher risk for poor eating, smoking, alcohol use, lack of exercise, depression, dementia, poor sleep, and heart disease.
People who are beyond 70 years of age and have a hearing loss are particularly vulnerable to social isolation. The reasons for social isolation vary. Some factors that contribute to isolation include lack of transportation, health issues, loss of a spouse, loss of friends, poverty, and living in a rural area. One organization is now taking action to prevent older adults with hearing loss from becoming socially isolated.
Why Not Wear A Hearing Aid?
Although a hearing aid is a logical choice for helping people overcome isolation related to hearing loss, only 30 percent of seniors with a hearing loss use a hearing aid. The reasons given vary, but a few of the more common include:
- Association with age
- Difficulty adapting
- Cosmetic reasons
- Unrealistic expectations
A hearing aid not only improves one’s hearing ability to lessen the effects of isolation, but it also can lower the risk of falls by improving balance and increasing alertness. Research suggests that older adults are at high risk for accidents involving loss of balance and decreased mental alertness.
A New Guide Book
The problem of people with hearing loss becoming socially isolated is a severe challenge. So much so that a U.S. resource hub, AginginPlace.org, is publishing a unique guide book to reach seniors regarding the subject. The Aging In Place group offers expert guides to help people over 70 years of age live independent lifestyles.
The Comprehensive Guide to Hearing Loss gives readers a simple explanation of the types of hearing loss, warning signs of hearing loss, and how hearing loss occurs. The guide also provides broad advice on hearing loss treatment and prevention and a section on how to talk to a senior about the signs of hearing loss.
Tips For Beating Isolation
Social isolation does not need to keep you down any longer. Please check out the new guide and all of its helpful information. Here are a few other ways to encourage social interaction among people over 70 years of age:
- Pet or plant adoption. Both are great for uplifting spirits.
- Manage health issues. Provide relief from medical issues by consulting with professionals about any health problems that may stand in the way of social interaction.
- Provide accessible transportation. A bus pass is ideal for seniors who can travel alone. Senior care services can assist with rides as well.
- Promote weekly church visits. This weekly outing promotes social interaction with acquaintances as well as giving a feeling of purposeful existence.
- Use technology. Health linked products can help to engage seniors with family. Video intercom service and hearing-impaired phones can decrease isolation in the older adult population.