5 Min

The Impact of Hearing Loss on Mental Health in Older Adults

In our constant battle with physical health, we often neglect our mental well-being. Learn more about the connection between hearing loss and mental health!

Nicole Brener
Nicole Brener
The Impact of Hearing Loss on Mental Health in Older Adults

There’s a lot of talk about helpful resources and assistive listening devices for older adults experiencing hearing loss, but many fail to address the emotional effects of losing our hearing ability at this stage in life. 

When the brain works overtime to interpret sound and how we’re used to interacting with the world dramatically changes; it reduces our ability to perform other tasks, discourages us from being social, and speeds up cognitive decline.

Mental health shouldn’t be overlooked when addressing hearing loss challenges in older adults. Fortunately, much can be done, so let’s talk about it.

Negative Effects of Hearing Loss on The Brain

Numerous studies have shown that untreated hearing loss in older adults is related to an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia due to hearing loss. When our listening processing centers get confused and receive fewer signals to interpret, it can lead to shrinkage in certain parts of the brain.

A few of the more notable ones include a study from Johns Hopkins by Dr. Frank Lin that indicated a mild hearing loss doubles your risk of dementia, a moderate loss triples your risk, and a severe loss increases your risk of dementia by five times - and it's even worse when it's left untreated. 

Although nearly 27 million Americans age 50 and older have hearing loss, only one in seven uses a hearing aid. Others wait, on average, 10 years before getting help for hearing loss. But communication with loved ones becomes more difficult during that time and isolation and health risks increase. 

The first step to mitigate this outcome is protecting our hearing. We've talked a lot in our blog about hearing protection, and there are many resources for healthy hearing.

At the same time, if you're experiencing signs of hearing loss, it's important to visit an audiologist and get a hearing test without delay. This will determine the appropriate next steps, including using assistive listening devices like hearing aids and relying on assistive listening technology.

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Emotional and Psychological Effects of Hearing Loss 

There's also another concern when it comes to the experience of hearing loss. 

When everyday communication becomes challenging due to untreated hearing loss, it affects our physical and emotional worlds.

Difficulty following conversations, feelings of isolation or fear of missing out on important information, and the constant strain to compensate for hearing loss can heighten anxiety levels and leave you feeling depleted.

The physical responses to stress and anxiety range from increased heart rate to shortness of breath and muscle tension. Simultaneously, some people experience difficulty concentrating and catastrophic thinking, a tendency to anticipate the worst possible outcome in a situation.

In some people, it affects their self-worth and can cause social withdrawal, which leads to depression, frustration, and listening fatigue. This can result in difficulty forming relationships due to shyness, frequently asking people to repeat themselves or misunderstanding conversations, and it can even impact professional lives and mental health.

Strategies for Coping with Hearing Loss 

One of the first steps in coping with hearing loss and enhancing mental health is finding a supportive community or relying on family, close friends, or professionals who can offer support and acceptance and make life comfortable with hearing loss.

Becoming an advocate for yourself and speaking up for your needs while maintaining a positive attitude is key - and this takes work. However, there's a significant hearing loss community and motivational speakers sharing their personal stories and advice who can inspire you on this journey.

We recommend searching online for people you identify with most and exploring your local community for social groups and events you can attend. If you’re not used to stepping into unfamiliar spaces, we recommend asking a friend or family member to go with you the first time and check it out. Finding a safe space with like-minded people can make all the difference.

At the same time, asses your best treatment method with a healthcare provider or audiologist who can assist you with personalized plans and assistive listening technology for your needs.

Coping with Listening Fatigue

When you’re constantly performing an additional effort to hear, it can cause discomfort, pain, tiredness, and fatigue. 

To help you with your listening fatigue, it's important to de-stress emotionally and physically. Take time off your hearing aids, follow a hobby, take nature walks and maybe try a head massage. If you still need to engage in conversations, you can rely on helpful apps like Nagish.

Nagish is an app that offers real-time transcription, customizable text display options, an intuitive interface that replaces native phone apps, and voice modulation features. It is a comprehensive communication tool for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. With Nagish, you can follow conversations in real-time without any added strain or mental fatigue.


Living with hearing loss comes with its unique challenges, but you can take steps and build a support system to help you overcome them and lead a comfortable, fulfilling and inclusive life where you stay connected and engaged with the world around you.

Nicole Brener

Copywriter based in Miami, FL. Leads copywriting workshops and mentors women entrepreneurs at the Idea Center of Miami Dade College.

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