The COVID-19 pandemic has been a tough time for everyone across the globe. From anxiety about getting sick to missing loved ones due to quarantine, it seems everyone has been affected. People with hearing loss may be especially feeling the effects of loneliness and isolation caused by social distancing guidelines.
Hearing Loss, Loneliness & Social Isolation
According to Jonathan J. Suen, Au.D., from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, “It was not surprising to learn that numerous studies show a significant connection between hearing loss, loneliness, and social isolation… Even anecdotal assumptions about a link make sense because we know that hearing loss affects our communication patterns, which therefore can impact our relationships with others.”
One particular concern is the increased reliance on remote communication technologies.
People with hearing loss can no longer put a voice to the face, and sound distortion while e-conferencing makes it difficult to distinguish who is talking and what’s being said.
“As a result, individuals with hearing loss risk (1) being disruptive if they ask for clarification, (2) being misinformed if they misinterpret speech content, and/or (3) being disengaged if they cope by avoiding active participation in these communication forums,” explained Archelle Georgiou, M.D., chief health officer at Starkey.
These factors can leave people less able and less willing to communicate, leading to social withdrawal, isolation and loneliness – all are risk factors for anxiety and depression, which hearing loss sufferers are at an increased risk of developing even without a pandemic.
Tips for Staying Connected
Fortunately, there are strategies for staying connected and preventing feelings of loneliness:
- Use video call to communicate with your loved ones in order to practice listening skills
- Get a captioned phone to make work and personal calls easier
- Incorporate sound therapy and relaxation strategies to relieve tinnitus and ease anxiety
- Reach out to HR or the Office of Disabilities Services to ensure you’re accessing all the resources available to you
- Call your audiologist to discuss tips for staying connected and to address any hearing aid-related issues
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Mt. Hood ENT today.