The aging process can bring with it new challenges to connecting with others. Earlier in life, our activities, jobs, and community involvement set us up for many different kinds of connections. For instance, kids’ activities put us in contact with other parents who had similar experiences, and our jobs were a way to daily connect with others over practical matters. Even when life became busy and it was more difficult to have parties or social gatherings, these other features of life made it possible to remain connected to others.
After retirement and when the kids have grown up, some of these networks are no longer there. Although we might not have felt like close friends with all of our coworkers, at least they were there for some daily small talk and catching up on news. Retirement can bring freedom and a newfound independence, but it can also require you to actively seek out connections with others on a daily basis.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association takes the month of May each year as an opportunity to celebrate Better Hearing and Speech Month. This annual celebration always has a theme, and this year we will think about “Connecting People.” What does hearing loss have to do with connecting people? It turns out that hearing loss quite often brings challenges to communication that put up walls between people, and aging populations face a particular need to connect despite hearing loss. Let’s consider some of the challenges to connecting people that are unique to older Americans, as well as the ways that getting treatment for hearing loss can eliminate one of the practical barriers to connecting.
Social Connections in the Golden Years
Some seniors are great at connecting with others. They take the opportunity and free time afforded by retirement to engage in their favorite activities with others and to spend time with their friends and family. Indeed, that time, independence, and freedom provide a great opportunity for some people to connect, particularly those who are naturally more outgoing, energetic, and active. However, others find it a challenge to connect with others during retirement. Whereas they were in the habit of connecting with coworkers, kids, and the networks those brought along, it can feel like a hassle to make new friends and connections in the community.
We know that the percentage of people with hearing loss increases with age, and many seniors have serious enough hearing loss to impair their ability to communicate. In addition to an already challenging social environment for some seniors, hearing loss can provide an even greater barrier. The awkwardness and embarrassment that can come with an incomplete conversation can even add an emotional context to a relationship that would be otherwise easy and comfortable if hearing loss were not an issue.
Seeking Treatment for Hearing Loss
One of the practical steps you can take to improve your relationships in your golden years is to get treatment for hearing loss. Rather than the fragmented conversations that used to define your interactions, hearing aids are good at filling in the gaps in sound, presenting you with full words, phrases, and sentences rather than disconnected pieces. Although you will still need to take active steps to build connections with others in your golden years, reducing these barriers in communication is a good practical step you can take toward strengthening existing relationships and forming new ones.
If you are ready to take the first step toward hearing assistance, you might not know where to begin. All you need to do is give us a call, and we can take it from there. We will begin with giving you an appointment for a hearing test and consultation about your individual needs. Once we have a thorough diagnosis of your hearing ability, we can come up with the right recommendations for hearing aids or other assistive technology. We will walk with you through the process to make sure that your new aids have good fit and functionality, and we can even help walk you through the adjustment process. If you are a senior who is eager to form stronger connections with others, getting treatment for hearing loss is a great step you can take!