Isolation is Hard on the Hard of Hearing

Isolation is Hard on the Hard of Hearing

These are tough times for all of us, and and we all have our challenges. My heart goes out particularly to parents of school children — I honestly don’t know how they are coping.
But from where I sit, there’s another group I’m really concerned about: the deaf and hard of hearing.
We know well that even in the best of times, deafness can be isolating. But now, during the pandemic, many seniors have become isolated from their family and peers.
According to the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), older adults who have been successful hearing aid users may be using their hearing aids less because they feel there is no one to interact with, and this will result in reduced sound input to the brain and can result in auditory deprivation.

Catherine Palmer, PhD, president of the AAA, says family members should encourage their loved ones to continue to use their hearing aids, even if they aren’t interacting much with others. There are always sounds around them, from birds chirping outside to the doorbell or the phone.

Another worry: “Hearing aids require ongoing maintenance, and for some individuals, their hearing aids may not be functioning well or at all and they may not be able to get to their audiologist for routine care,” Dr. Palmer points out.

“If an individual continues to use their hearing aid when it is not working, it functions like an earplug — actually blocking sound.”

Luckily, many audiologists now provide online telehealth appointments and curbside care for people who can’t come into a clinic safely, and some senior living facilities are allowing audiologists to come into their buildings, following safety precautions.

So if you have a friend or family member who uses hearing aids, this is a great time to reach out. Break through the isolation, and encourage them to use those hearing aids!


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