February 26, 2020

The Benefits of Being Social for Older Americans

The Benefits of Being Social for Older Americans

Take a moment to recall the last time you were part of a social activity. What are some of your memories? Not all social activities are happy and relaxing, but there’s one that that they tend to have in common: connection. When we engage in social activities we are reminded of the ways we are connected to those in our families, friendships, and communities. However, for those who haven’t had a social activity in a while, this lack of connection can be a key problem. Rather than focusing on the detriments of a lack of social activity for seniors, let’s focus on the positive benefits that seniors can receive from more social activity. Not only do they take the form of direct benefits such as feelings of connection, they also have indirect effects on your mental and physical health. After considering the wide range of benefits to be achieved from these social connections, let’s imagine the many ways it is possible to expand the range of connections.

Mental Health and Social Life

When we are connected to others, a number of effects take place in our mental health. In the first place, we are generally reminded that others share our experiences. These reminders put us in the mental space to acknowledge that we are not alone. Similarly, social connections can relieve feelings of anxiety. When we are isolated our heads can spin into feelings of confusion, fear, and mixed expectations. Being with others can be grounding, serving as a reminder of how much others are going through. Finally, social life can improve symptoms of depression. Although it can feel like the most difficult thing to socialize when we are depressed, it can have a profound positive effect on depressive symptoms to spend a little time with others.

The Physical Benefits of Social Activity

It might come as a surprise, but there are physical benefits to social activity, as well. In the first place, simply getting out of the house introduces physical activity into our daily routines. Moving through the world to social events can be remarkably beneficial for our energy levels and mobility. In addition to this direct physical effect of social life, there are other more surprising connections, including reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, some forms of cancer, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular problems. Add to the list that nutrition is often improved when we eat with others in social contexts. These social benefits in the realm of physical health lead us to believe that we stand to gain more that feelings of connection when we are actively social.

How to Improve Your Social Life

If you are a senior who finds your social life dwindling, there are some basic steps you can take to get connected. One of the simplest things you can do is to reconnect with old friends and family members with whom you’ve lost touch. Take a quick scroll through your address book or calendar from past years. You are likely to find people listed there with whom you can connect, and you’ll be surprised how easy it can be to pick up and reconnect. Simply making a call is all it may take before you have a new lunch date or are even planning a trip with someone. Sometimes more casual connections are all it takes to feel like your social life has improved. Clubs are a great resource for these kinds of connections, and there are many organizations oriented around your favorite activities and hobbies. If you like crafts, mechanics, or political affairs, simply do a little digging and a club or organization is sure to turn up. Finally, physical activity is an excellent way to integrate all these benefits into a single activity. Take, for instance, an exercise class. With regular attendance, you are sure to reap the physical, emotional, and directly social benefits that have proven effects. When taken in combination, you will be surprised at how good you feel, and the connections tend to multiply. Why hesitate to take action toward stronger social activities? You will not regret it when you feel the support of a strong community around you once again.

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Common Excuses for Not Buying Hearing Aids
May 18, 2022

Common Excuses for Not Buying Hearing Aids

If you suspect that your loved one is developing hearing loss, you have likely already heard one or a combination of these excuses for refusing to seek assistance. Often these excuses work in concert with one another, and the struggle to convince a family member or loved one can require logical cartwheels. Knowing some of the most common excuses can help you understand where your loved one is coming from and also to encourage solutions rather than living with limitations.

My Hearing Isn’t That Bad

Perhaps the most common response when confronted with hearing loss is the claim that hearing isn’t that bad and that a person can make do without assistance. Although many people satisfice in the context of limited hearing ability, why continue to struggle with limitations when assistance options are available? The only way to know how bad hearing ability has become is to get a hearing exam by a licensed professional. With this information in hand, you will have a sense not only how your hearing measures up to population averages but also how much you can hear relative to your own starting point.

I’m Getting Along Fine

The partner of the first excuse is the idea that a person can get along fine without hearing aids. Although some people are able to find remarkable work-arounds to complete their daily tasks, there are serious health effects associated with untreated hearing loss. Not only can hearing limitations create a physical risk, they can also lead to mental health problems, emotional burdens, and even cognitive strain. Your loved one might feel like the situation is sufficient, but just imagine how much better life might be with adequate hearing ability. Conversations can be restored to a fluid back-and-forth, information can travel freely, and the stress of not knowing if you will be able to communicate in a given situation can be relieved.

Hearing Aids Are Too Expensive

It is true that hearing aids are a serious investment in your wellbeing, but there are often solutions to make them more affordable. Some forms of insurance cover all or part of the purchase of hearing aids, and other financing options are available, as well. The bigger question might be one of priorities. Knowing that hearing assistance can restore relationships, conversations, and relieve mental anxieties, your loved one might be undervaluing their own health and wellbeing.

Hearing Aids Are Frustrating to Use

In the past, hearing aids were nascent technology with lots of bugs to work out. You may have seen someone struggling with hearing aids, trying to adjust the volume levels or cancel out squealing feedback. Others in the past found that manual dexterity issues or arthritis got in the way of inserting or removing aids. The new features of hearing aids make it possible to remedy many of these frustrating aspects in the past. Some hearing aids are connected to smartphone apps that allow you to easily change volume levels, even setting profiles for different locations or types of events. The latest hearing aids come in all shapes and sizes, making it much easier to deal with them comfortably.

Hearing Aids Don’t Work

Maybe your loved one knows someone who had a bad experience with hearing aids. Perhaps this person was unhappy with the amount of assistance received or the trouble that came along with the aids. Although hearing aids don’t promise 100% success for all users, their effectiveness is improving rapidly, and most people with hearing loss find a powerful improvement to their daily lives. The only way to know if they will give you the assistance you seek is to give hearing aids a try.Don’t let one or more of these excuses get in the way of solutions. If your loved one is hesitant to get hearing aids for these or other reasons, perhaps the first step is the simplest. Getting a hearing test is easy, quick, and painless, so why not make an appointment right away. There is no harm in understanding your current hearing ability, and this baseline exam can be helpful to track future hearing ability, as well. If you discover a need for hearing aids, your hearing health professional can assist you in taking the next steps.

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How Treating Hearing Loss Improves Your Relationships
May 18, 2022

How Treating Hearing Loss Improves Your Relationships

If you have a loved one with hearing loss, you may be familiar with some of the ways that condition can affect your relationship. Unfortunately, the most intense effects of hearing loss tend to occur with a significant other or romantic partner. Indeed, a recent study from 2007 in the ASHA Leader (American Speech-Hearing-Language Association) reported that 35 percent of respondents said that out of all their relationships, the relationship with a significant other suffered most from hearing loss. In such close proximity, it is possible to voice frustrations without considering the effects of our speech. Similarly, we expect those closest to us to be able to hear and respond to what we say, but hearing loss can get in the way of fulfilling that basic expectation. Let’s take a moment to explore some of the negative effects of hearing loss on intimate relationships before taking a positive look at the ways our lives can improve with hearing treatment.

Expressing Negativity

Although it is important to communicate the whole range of emotion to those we love, expressing constant negativity can take its toll on others. Unfortunately, hearing loss can lead to a number of negative emotions. Those who have untreated hearing loss tend to feel frustrated, angry, and short-tempered. They can become resentful of those who can hear or those who do not respond to them as they would like. Compounded on these feelings are the effects of social isolation. Those who have hearing loss are more likely to spend time alone, and they may even avoid social engagements in order to save themselves from feelings of embarrassment or frustration over the inability to hear. Tragically, these forms of avoidance only serve to compound negative emotion, and some even fall into depression. When these negative emotions occur, the significant others and intimate partners often take the brunt of negativity. This constant flow of harsh emotion can take its toll on a relationship, indeed.

Disconnected Relationships

Those who struggle to hear also find themselves missing out on essential forms of communication with intimate partners. Not only are direct conversations important to keeping relationships healthy and strong, but casual asides and brief moments of humor are important, as well. These small quips that are peppered into our daily lives can build a feeling of connection and trust with our loved ones. However, hearing loss gets in the way of our ability to communicate in both big and small ways with those we love. Although a person may be asking questions, a loved one with hearing loss cannot listen and respond. Important information may be missed, as well, particularly when the hearing loss is unacknowledged.

Feeling Misunderstood

Finally, those with hearing loss can find their intimate relationships suffering from feeling misunderstood. The experience of hearing loss can be isolating and frightening, but it is essential to explain these feelings to our loved ones in order to be heard and supported. Too many people go on with untreated hearing loss and miss the opportunity to share their feelings with those they loved most. Being able to talk about our experiences is crucial to sharing a life with someone, and hearing loss is one of these essential life experiences that must be communicated.

Treating Hearing Loss and Strengthening Relationships

The good news is that treatment is available for most forms of hearing loss, and that treatment can remedy each of these struggles. When it comes to an intimate partner, conversation is essential to building a healthy and strong connection. If you are the one who suspects hearing loss, why not take the step for yourself and seek treatment? The first step will be to get a hearing exam, and that appointment will catapult you toward a fresh new start. On the other hand, if you think your loved one might have hearing loss, find a way to communicate your concerns right away. The sooner they seek assistance and the possibility of hearing aids, the sooner you will be able to build a stronger connection. Once hearing ability is regained through assistance, you will be thrilled at the negativity you can overcome and the new connections you can build.

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