Positive thinking

Posted on 29/03/2012

What mental health issues can affect older people with age-related hearing loss? We take a look. Alice Lagnado reports

Becoming older is a different experience for everybody. Some people enjoy the freedoms of retirement; others find stopping work difficult.

If you develop hearing loss as you get older, that can be an added challenge. Hearing loss can make you feel isolated and frustrated. You may also be managing other health problems, as well as a change in working patterns after retirement, difficulties sleeping, loneliness, or bereavement. Some people find that they become prone to anxiety or depression.

Two people talking

So what can you do to look after your mental health as you get older?

In terms of managing feelings of isolation due to a growing hearing loss, there are steps you can take to minimise this. Some people find lipreading classes a source of support as well as a way to ease communication. Getting hearing aids as soon as possible and often for both ears, can give you the best technical support you need.

You can also look into other technical help such as telephones with volume control that connect to your hearing aids, doorbells, TV subtitling and a range of other gadgets. Or go online and join in the discussions at our forums.

You may find it helpful to explain clearly to hearing people what you need. You may find it helps to ask people to face you and speak clearly, or simply to slow down, for example.

Older people often have a lot to manage, starting with retirement. As Mind, the mental health charity, says, it’s easy to underestimate the impact that retirement can have. Work can provide status, a sense of purpose and often, a social network. Retirement is high on the scale of stressful life events.

It can help to develop new interests, stay physically active, and make sure your day has a structure. The Age UK charity has resources aimed at helping older people make the most of retirement, covering finances, health and community involvement.

Whatever you do, remember that there are plenty of people out there to talk to, and lots of resources to access. Stay healthy!

Further information

Want to read more?

This article was also published in the Action on Hearing Loss magazine.

If you would like to read more news, interviews and features linked to hearing loss, you can become a member of Action on Hearing Loss.

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