The Benefits of Being Social for Older Americans

The Benefits of Being Social for Older Americans

Human beings are social animals, and the quality of someone’s social life is one of the most important influences on their mental and physical health. Without positive, durable relationships, both minds and bodies can fall apart, especially as we age.

Hearing Loss and Social Life

When you have hearing loss, you may start to miss important words or phrases. You may struggle to keep up with conversations in noise, or follow along with a film you’ve never seen. You may feel tired at the end of the night, simply from trying to listen, and as you miss something funny one time too many, you may start to feel like an outsider with even your closest friends. This sadly can lead to depression and social isolation

Who is affected by social isolation?

There are many possible causes for social isolation, including feeling disconnected from the community or other lifestyle factors, many of which can be associated with age. Everyone is susceptible to loneliness and social isolation, but older people are the most susceptible. As you grow older, it is more likely to struggle with health issues, experience the death of a partner or close relative, struggle with reduced mobility, and you move away from employment, making it harder to keep those friendships going or make new groups of friends.

The health effects of social isolation

A recent study found that the absence of support in social relationships is the similar to the health effects of smoking 15 cigarettes a day or drinking more than six alcoholic drinks daily, and is more harmful than not exercising at all. Social isolation can have a negative impact on your mental and physical health including:

  • Increased risk of becoming depressed, anxious or having panic attacks
  • Difficulty getting to sleep or sleeping too much
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Substance abuse (excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, drugs)
  • Feeling tired or lack motivation

    Improve your Social Life

Understanding how to establish and maintain supportive connections is an essential part of life. People who live alone especially benefit from cultivating a strong network of social connections. Social circles may include family, friends, professional mentors, and other important individuals in their lives. Often living in community is key to staying social as mobility becomes more difficult. If you feel lonely or are worried you’re becoming socially isolated, there are steps you can take to reconnect and give your social life some love.

  • Reach out to friends and family – give friends and family a call and let them know you are feeling a bit down and ask if they would like to catch up.
  • Get involved in community – Join a group, enroll in a class, audition for the choir. it’s a great excuse to get out of the house and meet like-minded people, plus it’s never a too late to learn something new.
  • Volunteer -Volunteering is a great way to make friends and also make a difference.

Don’t Ignore Hearing Loss

Most importantly if you suspect you have hearing loss it’s a good idea to get your hearing checked as soon as possible. You can have all the social interactions a person could need around you, but if you are struggling to hear none of these interactions will nourish you in the way you need to stay healthy. A study by the American Academy of Audiology has shown that for adults age 50 and older, those with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report depression and anxiety and less likely to participate in organized social activities when compared to those who treated their hearing loss with hearing aids. This is because untreated hearing loss can make social settings extremely difficult and tiring to navigate.

Hear better with hearing aids

Hearing aids have been shown to help alleviate depression, anxiety and social isolation hearing loss caused by living with untreated hearing loss. Numerous studies find over and over that seniors who use hearing aids report significant improvements in their lives including better success in their relationships at home and at work, their sense of independence, their self-confidence and their social life. Now is the best time to schedule a hearing test and get on the road to healthy hearing. Contact us at Hearing Consultants to set up a hearing test. We can help you find the best hearing aids for your lifestyle and keep you social into the golden years of your life.

A Healthy Diet Can Lower the Risk of Hearing Loss

A Healthy Diet Can Lower the Risk of Hearing Loss

A healthy diet and proper nutrition are fundamental to every aspect of our health. It affects our heart, blood pressure, weight and well being to name a few. Now there is research that there is also a connection between our diet and healthy hearing. While there is no magic food that is guaranteed to prevent hearing loss or restore lost hearing but there is hope that a healthy diet will help. New research is suggesting that particular nutrition patterns may actually decrease your risk of developing hearing loss.

Hypertension, Cardiovascular Health and Diet

People suffering from high blood pressure could also suffer from hearing loss as a result of their medical condition. Likewise, heart disease is also inked to hearing loss. A healthy cardiovascular system, researchers have discovered, is healthy for the auditory system, too. Most heart disease is linked to blood vessel damage from high blood pressure (hypertension) and/or stiffened, narrowed arteries (arteriosclerosis) from high cholesterol. However, if high blood pressure and cardiovascular health are controlled with the right diet, an additional loss of hearing can be prevented.

A 22-Year Diet Study

Scientists have sought to prove whether certain dietary patterns might affect hearing. To investigate, a research team from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital analyzed questionnaire responses from about 71,000 women who took part in the 22-year study between 1991 and 2013. At the beginning of data collection, women taking part in the study were between 27 and 44 years old. The research team asked the women every 4 years about their eating habits over the past year and they were also about any hearing loss they may have developed over the same time.

Healthy Eating Index, Mediterranean and DASH diet

The team used the reports of food intake to calculate scores for three healthy dietary patterns: the alternate Mediterranean diet (AMED), Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), and the 2010 Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI-2010). The Mediterranean Diet is based on local fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, legumes, and olive oil that grow in areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean Diet also promotes eating local seafood, drinking a glass of red wine during a meal and seldom partaking in red meat. The DASH diet encourages fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean meats, fish, and low-fat dairy, and limits sodium, sugar, and fat. Like the others, AHEI-2010 encourages vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and limits sugar, salt, and animal fat.

The researchers found that women whose dietary patterns most resembled AMED or DASH had about a 30% lower risk of hearing loss than women whose diets least resembled them. The women who didn’t have AMED or DASH dietary patterns also seemed to be more disposed to smoking, eat and have high blood pressure, and not a likely to be physically active.

Beneficial Nutrients

The researchers found that diets that prioritize fruits and vegetables with minerals like folic acid, potassium, and zinc decreased the risk of hearing loss. So, what are some of the best foods you can eat to avoid hearing loss?

Potassium a mineral found in bananas, potatoes, and black beans—plays a large role in the way that the inner ear functions and converts sounds into signals for the brain to interpret.

Zinc found in almonds, cashews, and dark chocolate can be an effective treatment for tinnitus, an ongoing ringing or buzzing in the ears that has no external source but the inside of your head.

Folic acid has also been shown to possibly slow the onset of hearing loss. Blood flow is restricted by an amino acid called homocysteine, so folic acid works to metabolize it to keep blow flow regulated. Foods high in folic acid include spinach, broccoli, and asparagus.

Hearing Consultants

It’s never too late to start eating healthier and now that you know that your diet can also affect your hearing there are just too many benefits to a healthy diet to ignore. If you suspect you are living with a hearing loss contact us at Hearing Consultants. We can test your hearing aids and help you find the best hearing aids for your need and lifestyle. Hearing aids will help you hear all the sounds you have been missing and help you get back on track to a healthy and happy life.

New Year’s Resolution: Get Your Hearing Tested

New Year's Resolution Get Your Hearing Tested

The New Year has come and with it often comes a new set of resolutions to better your life and reach for goals you’ve always dreamed of. If you really want to make to best on your new year’s resolutions it’s important to have your health in order. Hearing loss happens. In fact, hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition in the United States, and is more prevalent than diabetes or cancer.

Hearing loss: a national problem

The incidence of hearing loss increases with age. With approximately one third of Americans between ages 65 and 74 and nearly half of those over age 75 have hearing loss. Sadly, only 20% of those individuals who might benefit from treatment actually seek help.

It is all too common to delay treatment for most people until they cannot communicate even in the best of listening situations. On average, hearing aid users wait over 10 years after their initial diagnosis to be fit with their first set of hearing aids. Don’t be a part of this statistic. Hearing loss is very treatable – and more successful when treatment is started early. If you suspect you have hearing loss use the start of this new years as a great time to find out for sure the status of your hearing.  The risks of not treating your hearing loss, is a risk that no one can afford.

Untreated hearing loss increases your chances of falling

People 65 or older commonly fall and these falls often result in emergency room visits, broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, hospitalizations or even death. Even a mild degree of hearing loss triples the risk of an accidental fall. Hearing loss makes people less aware of their environment, so they don’t notice other people, pets or activities swirling around them.

In addition, hearing loss can decrease spatial awareness, so being able to gauge where their body is in relation to objects around them gets trickier. Hearing loss causes the brain to use more resources for hearing and interpreting speech and sound, so fewer resources go toward balance. These factors can all make people with hearing loss more likely to lose their balance and fall.

Untreated hearing and depression and social isolation

Untreated hearing loss has serious emotional and social consequences for older persons, according to a major new study by The National Council on the Aging. The survey found that seniors with untreated hearing loss who did not wear hearing aids reported feelings of sadness or depression that lasted two or more weeks during the previous years. Among respondents with more severe hearing loss, 30 percent of non-users of hearing aids reported depression, compared to 22 percent of hearing aid users. This sadness can affect your cherished relationships with family, friends and effect your performance in the work place, ultimately impacting your earnings.

Untreated hearing loss and dementia

Scientists are finding more and more evidence that trouble with hearing makes you more likely to go on to have dementia, a condition marked by memory loss and trouble with thinking, problem-solving, and other mental tasks. That doesn’t mean that people with hearing loss (about two-thirds of adults over 70) are guaranteed to have dementia — simply that the odds are higher

Hearing loss and diabetes.

The relationship between hearing loss and diabetes has long been debated. But research now concludes that hearing loss is more prevalent in adults with diabetes. The connection isn’t completely clear, but researchers are finding that people with diabetes were two times more likely to have hearing loss than people without and that people who are pre-diabetic are 30% more likely to have hearing loss.

Test your hearing for the New Year

Hearing loss is often first noticed by a family member. That’s because most hearing loss happens, so gradually the affected person doesn’t notice it. Contact us at Hearing Consultants to set up a hearing test in the New Year. The assessment usually takes less than an hour. The thought of hearing loss can be scary but it’s better to know what you are dealing with so we can help you find the best hearing aids for your lifestyle and help you get back on track to focus on the things in your life that really matter to you 2020.