Well-Hearing is Well-Being

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Autumn presents us with a tapestry of rusty oranges, bright reds and mellow yellows. Such a kaleidoscopic array of colors is breathtaking, to say the least! But, as September stretches onward, the temperatures begin to plummet. The days grow colder, and we begin to spend more time indoors.

Autumn may begin to feel like a time of endings: The end of outdoor fun. The end of fresh air, sunlight and warm summer breezes. The end of short sleeves, sneakers and baseball caps. The end of frolicking and running and fun.

But fall is also a time of new beginnings. School starts up again. Classmates rediscover old friendships, and members of the faculty renew working relationships with their colleagues. The time spent at the dinner table stretches beyond dinner. We break out the board games or shuffle a deck of cards for some good, old family fun. We trade high-fives in the yard for a cool roll of the dice in Monopoly or a winning hand at rummy.

The one thing we don’t trade away, though, is the joy of being together. That pleasure of a fun bit of competition and social interaction is very important. It’s the glue that keeps us connected to our family and, even, our world.

We are social creatures. Our need to socialize with one-another is so ingrained and so important that, if our ability to socialize becomes diminished in any way, such as with hearing loss, we may become lonely, socially isolated, and even clinically depressed.

Not only that, but the lack of social engagement can lead to cognitive decline and dementia. The reason why is very simple: As complex as they are, our brains are very similar to any other muscle in our bodies. The more we exercise them, the stronger they become. The lack of social engagement can cause our brains to become lethargic, making them weaker. And that weakness most often takes the form of dementia.

The good news is that the negative effects of untreated hearing loss, the social isolation and the risk of dementia, are easily wiped away by wearing hearing aids. With newly fitted hearing aids, this time of new beginnings can take on a whole new meaning as we rediscover our vital social connections.