TORONTO, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Several studies show that hearing loss often goes untreated, leading to depression and other cognitive issues as it progressively gets worse, according to new research presented today at the American Psychological Association's annual conference.
Introducing hearing loss patients to modern hearing aids, as well as newer technology such as hearing loops, can significantly alter what Dr. David Myers said is progressively negative path caused by not addressing the problem.
"Many hard of hearing people battle silently with their invisible hearing difficulties, straining to stay connected to the world around them, reluctant to seek help," said Dr. David Myers, a psychology professor at Hope College, in a presentation at the conference. "Anger, frustration, depression and anxiety are all common among people who find themselves hard of hearing."
On average, people wait 6 years from the first symptoms of hearing loss, Myers said, because they are unsure or unwilling to seek help. A study of more than 2,300 people with hearing loss found that those who don't wear hearing aids are 50 percent more likely to suffer from sadness or depression. The reasoning, at least partially, he said, is the crimp hearing issues put on social activities -- people with hearing aids attend more of them.
For reasons of vanity, denial and lack of awareness, Myers said adults between the ages of 20 and 69 were half as likely as those over the age of 70 to get aids. Previous studies, he said, have shown that while hearing gets worse, the risk for dementia and other cognitive conditions increases.
"Getting people to use the latest in hearing aid technology can help them regain control of their life and achieve emotional stability and even better cognitive functioning," Myers said.
Myers suggests, in addition to greater efforts at engaging people with hearing loss for treatment, the hearing loop system should be considered by public officials. The systems, popular in Britain and Scandinavia, use an inductive loop to transmit sound signals directly into an in-ear hearing aid or cochlear implant. They work best, he said, in places like train stations, places of worship or other public spaces where hearing is a useful ability.
"Making public spaces directly hearing aid accessible is psychologically important for people with hearing loss," Myers said.