We have had the opportunity to hear Dan Buettner in the past. He has an ongoing study of “The Blue Zones” in conjunction with National Geographic. The Blue Zones started as a list of the five places in the world where there is the highest percentage of centenarians.
Dan and his team of professionals have studied why people in these geographic pockets live longer and have a shorter morbidity rate. It’s a fascinating topic, but you may ask, what does this have to do with hearing? Well, those individuals who had a closer connection to other people had a happier life. We cannot stress enough how hearing loss can affect health and relationships. Finding a hearing loss early is to everyone’s benefit. If someone has a hearing loss and needs hearing devices, these instruments can contribute to more positive relationships with people around them as well as their general health.
There has been study after study in the past decade or more showing how treating a hearing loss results in a better quality of life. Sergei Kochkin, PhD, and Carole M. Rogin, MA back in 2000 had one of my favorite titles, “Quantifying the Obvious: The Impact of Hearing Instruments on Quality of Life“. Getting this information out without the stigma (of wearing hearing aids) is challenging and and continues to be, because most people wait too long, not taking action until a multitude of negative factors have already impacted them.
In past posts, I have highlighted many medical conditions that affect our hearing. I will now present a series on how treating your hearing will improve your life. The topics will include depression’s link to hearing loss, ties between dementia and untreated hearing loss, and cognitive function. Cognitive function is now being extensively researched, so we should have much more information about it in coming years.
Professionals in the hearing community have to work on publicizing positive information on aural rehabilitation. Hearing aids are definitely a part of this type of rehab. We need to highlight in our counseling realistic expectation, which my colleague, Robert Martin is addressing in his series of blogs here @hearinghealth. Focusing on relationships and giving meaning to everyday life as Dan found in “The Blue Zones” will help those who need it but haven’t yet seen a reason to get help.