Over the course of more than 75 years of studying happiness in adults, a Harvard study has revealed the “key” to happiness. In this study, the researchers have looked at the components which lead to happiness later in life. The big take-away from the study has been that the strength and depth of relationships determine our health and happiness levels. This also impacts our cognitive function, helping to preserve memory. In contrast, individuals who feel lonely are more likely to experience rapid health decline and greater levels of sadness.
What does this have to do with audiology and hearing? More than many people realize. A key component to relationships is a sense of closeness and honesty between the relationship partners. This requires communication – not just presence. Communication may seem self-explanatory, but what if you or your friend/partner have hearing loss? How do you continue to ensure good communication with openness and honesty?
People with untreated hearing loss tend to change the way they communicate. They pretend they understand when they really don’t. They ask for repetition frequently, frustrating the speaker. They get overwhelmed or frustrated and begin to withdraw from conversations. These issues lead to a breakdown of communication. And, when breakdowns happen repeatedly over time, both communication partners become frustrated and communication becomes less frequent. Eventually, that close relationship that once existed becomes distant and happiness begins to fade.
This is why treating hearing loss is so critical. One of the reasons we are passionate about helping those with hearing loss is because we truly desire to enhance our patients’ quality of lives. We have the opportunity to help restore relationships, reduce loneliness, and through these changes, bring back joy and happiness. We do that by bringing sound back into the ears – restoring the voice of a son, daughter, husband, wife, or close friend. Recently a patient came to the office with her two daughters to be fit with her new hearing aids. The daughters turned to each other and said “lets remember today as the day we got our MOM back!” Audiologists open up the doors of communication that have been slowly closing over the years. And, what a joy it is to watch that happen!