Hearing loss affects everyone differently. Some people experience listening fatigue, while others struggle more with poor communication. Most people report feeling frustrated when they can’t hear what’s being said, or embarrassed when they mishear something. Did you know that for some people, dealing with hearing loss can affect their personality?
Researching Hearing Loss and Personality
A few years ago, researchers at the University of Gothenburg looked at how hearing loss is linked to changes in personality. They found 400 older adults between 80 to 98 years old who were willing to participate in the study. Every 2 years for 6 years these participants took a few short tests to measure their physical and mental health. They also measured personality traits such as extraversion, introversion, outgoingness, and emotional stability.
The study found that many of these older adults became less extroverted and outgoing over time. While some of this could be accounted for by changes in physical and cognitive health, the only consistent factor related to higher introversion was hearing loss! “Surprisingly, we did not find that declining overall health and functional capacity make people less outgoing,” explained Anne Ingeborg Berg, PhD, researcher at the University of Gothenburg. “But hearing loss directly affects the quality of social situations. If the perceived quality of social interaction goes down, it may eventually affect whether and how we relate to others.” This means that older adults with hearing loss experienced some changes in their personality.
How Hearing Loss Leads to Social Isolation
Do you have hearing loss? Have you been struggling to communicate with family and friends? Untreated hearing loss is closely tied to social isolation. Take a moment to think about the last social situation you were in. Several people were talking at the same time, and there was lots of background noise. It was very difficult to hear what was being said.
When you have hearing loss, these types of social situations go from fun to stressful. Not only that, but you may spend the whole interaction worrying about what people are saying to you, and feeling embarrassed when you mishear a question or answer inappropriately. You might even wonder if people are saying bad things about you behind your back.
Straining to hear is exhausting, and you’re tired of being anxious all the time. Adults with hearing loss often give up on being social. They’re more likely to stay home alone instead of dealing with all the stress of social situations. Hearing loss leads to feelings of alienation, as older adults with hearing loss avoid group interactions and spend less time with family and friends.
Social Isolation Affects Your Personality
The University of Gothenburg study found that hearing loss and social isolation can affect your personality. Over time, older adults with hearing loss became a lot less outgoing and a lot more introverted. They spend more time on their own and deal with loneliness and boredom.
Social isolation often leads to negative physical and mental health outcomes. If you’re feeling isolated, you have a higher risk of developing anxiety, stress, and even depression. People who spend a lot of time alone also have more rapid rates of cognitive decline. This is because the brain needs social interaction to get the right kind of stimulation and exercise to stay healthy.
Finally, being less socially active often leads to being less physically active as well. When you go out less and stay home more you get less exercise, and you have a higher risk of weight gain, diabetes, and even heart conditions.
Treating Hearing Loss is the Key
Hearing loss can make it impossible to participate in all the activities you love. You stay home alone, and you don’t give your body or your brain the exercise you need to be healthy. Hearing loss leads to feelings of isolation, and your family may start noticing changes in your personality.
Treating hearing loss is the key to looking after your mental health. Quality hearing aids will help you hear all the sounds you’ve been missing. Advanced programs like background noise reduction and speech enhancement will make conversations easy. And hearing aids will help you keep your outgoing spirit, making you excited to meet friends and spend time with your loved ones. If you are ready to benefit from hearing loss treatment, contact us today!