Age-Related Hearing Loss is the third most chronic condition in seniors over the age of 65. Hearing loss is also associated with other challenges–that when left unaddressed, can create hidden dangers for individuals.
Social Isolation is one of the most concerning hidden dangers of age-related hearing loss. Social isolation can be defined as the reduction of social and physical activity. It is a common complaint among seniors who struggle with hearing loss.
Those who suffer from hearing loss are more likely to isolate themselves and withdraw from social situations. Studies show that those with hearing loss often feel embarrassed or afraid when conversing with others. They express feeling like they are not a part of the conversation because of their hearing loss.
This may cause individuals with even mild hearing loss to pull away from activities they would normally enjoy and become separated from family, friends and community. This social retreat also extends to physical activity. Both increased social isolation and reduced physical activity is a dangerous combination and are strong risk factors in developing cognitive decline and dementia.
One of the greatest things you can do to avoid social isolation is to develop a habit of active aging. Active aging will provide you with better overall health, continued development of knowledge, increased security, and a maximized quality of life. Active aging can also empower you with feelings of independence and self-confidence.
Below are some of our favorite tips for helping our patients live an active lifestyle:
Share a meal with family and friends: Eating a meal with family or friends 3-5 times a week is a great way to stay socially active. It also provides the opportunity to stay connected to those you are closest with or to build new friendships with others. You might even think of starting a weekly dinner group with friends and recent acquaintances.
Commit to regular exercise: Find an exercise program that works for you. Yoga, brisk walks, balance and posture classes, biking and more are all great ways to get a moderate and healthy amount of exercise. Some people enjoy the stability of a regularly scheduled class. Others prefer a set time for a morning walk, gym or other physical activity. Want to make it more social? Find a buddy and exercise together!
Learn a new hobby: Turns out you CAN teach an old dog new tricks after all! Learning a new hobby can keep your mind sharp as you continue to develop new skills. We recommended learning a new hobby at least once a year. Many community centers offer classes for cooking, art and other activities.
Play an instrument (or learn a new instrument): Has it been awhile since you’ve played the piano? Maybe you never learned to play but always wish you had! Playing an instrument increases brain stimulation and also brings individuals satisfaction. If you’ve never learned how to play an instrument or read music, it’s never too late to start!
Read often: Find a book club and read regularly. If you are not an avid reader, aim for reading a book every 6-8 weeks. Mix up the topics of your books to keep things interesting!
Participate in classes at your local senior center: As we’ve mentioned above, most senior centers have a large variety of classes and activities available to you. This is a great way to find new friends and learn new skills.
Be a volunteer: Volunteering at a local hospital, shelter or school is a great way to stay socially active. It helps you feel independent while lending a hand to those in need. There are many service opportunities available. If you’re not sure where to start, ask your local senior center if they know of any volunteer opportunities.
Go back to school: Did you know many local Universities offer FREE tuition to people over 65? Go back to school and learn an entirely new skill set. There are more professions and technologies to learn than ever before. Dabble in something new while earning a degree!
Being a lifelong learner and staying active is important for maintaining a healthy, active brain. Our list of active aging tips also helps fight off the social isolation associated with hearing loss. As you thrive in a variety of social situations, you’ll get more and more familiar with using your hearing aids. In addition, living an active lifestyle can also reduce your risk for cognitive decline and dementia. You can feel more self-aware, confident and independent as you increase your social activity.