Staefa, Switzerland, January 11, 2012
What does our hearing have to do with the way we feel about ourselves and how healthy we are? Or how often we exercise? Or how we plan our vacation? Hear the World asked these and other questions, in its “Hearing is Living” study, and found some surprising results. People with hearing loss which is treated with a hearing aid report that it has had a positive influence on their quality of life (83 percent of respondents with hearing aids), their general state of health (69 percent) and their sense of self-esteem (64 percent). Respondents also enjoy sports (37 percent) and travel (66 percent) more. The study also shows that the tendency to experience depression is higher for people with untreated hearing loss than for those with hearing aids or normal hearing.
The ability to hear is down to a fascinating sensory organ which plays a central role in many facets of our lives. It affects our physical and mental wellbeing and influences how active we are in our everyday life. To find out more about the significance of hearing for our quality of life Hear the World, the global initiative of Phonak, the leading manufacturer of hearing aids, initiated the “Hearing is Living” study. Over 4,300 people in Germany, France, Switzerland, Great Britain and the USA were surveyed by the Swiss market research and strategy consultants zehnvier. The survey included people with hearing aids, people with untreated hearing loss, relatives of people with hearing loss and people not affected by hearing loss, directly or indirectly.
83 percent of all hearing aid users surveyed are in agreement about the fact that since their hearing has improved their quality of life has changed for the better. The reasons for this are as diverse as the significance of hearing for our health.
Good hearing contributes to wellbeing and prevents depression
Internationally, 69 percent of respondents with hearing aids state that the hearing aid has a positive influence on their general mood. Equally 69 percent report an improvement in their mental fitness, which is evident from a heightened receptiveness and improved concentration. 64 percent confirm that the hearing aid has a positive influence on their self esteem.
A comparison of hearing aid users and people with untreated hearing loss also reveals the importance of hearing for our mental health. Respondents affected by moderate to severe hearing loss who do not wear a hearing aid feel sad or depressed more frequently than hearing aid owners (22 percent without a hearing aid, 15 percent with a hearing aid), are more likely to feel insecure and anxious (21 percent without a hearing aid, 13 percent with a hearing aid), and suffer from insomnia more often (31 percent without a hearing aid, 24 percent with a hearing aid). These symptoms are regarded in the field of medicine as possible first indicators of depressive disorders. Prof. Dr. med. Martin Ohlmeier, Director of the Clinic for psychiatry and psychotherapy in Kassel/Germany, had these comments on the results: “People with hearing loss lack some important opportunities for human contact. The consequences of this isolation can be the development of depression and increased anxiety, but also increasing mistrust of others. While the tendency for depression among people with untreated hearing loss is significantly higher, differences between people with a hearing aid and people with no hearing loss are marginal. This shows that a hearing aid can support the prevention of depression for people who experience hearing difficulties.”
Hearing aid users exercise more frequently and feel healthier
However, hearing affects not just our mental health, but also our physical health. Evidence shows that overall 37 percent of the hearing aid users surveyed state that they enjoy sports more since they have been wearing a hearing aid. And along with enjoyment, they also gain endurance: 21 percent of hearing aid owners report that they exercise more, 34 percent say that they actively take part in sports at least once a week. The almost logical conclusion: 69 percent of hearing aid users surveyed believe that their hearing aid has a positive effect on their general health.
Good hearing makes you mobile – in everyday life and when travelling
Another insight to come out of the study is that hearing has a clear influence on how mobile and active we are. Internationally, 65 percent of hearing aid users confirm improved everyday mobility. Not surprising when you consider that 79 percent of users surveyed are able to find their way around better in traffic and in unfamiliar surroundings thanks to their hearing aid. And hearing aids also have an impact on how their users spend their leisure time: 73 percent of hearing aid users surveyed now enjoy more going to the theater or movies, and 71 percent enjoy going to restaurants since they have been wearing their hearing aid. This mobility in everyday life carries on further from home. 84 percent of users surveyed state that thanks to their hearing aid they can again travel in whatever way they like, 66 percent have more fun when travelling.
More enjoyment from sport and travel, a more active and healthy life – the positive effect good hearing has on our quality of life is a key insight gained from the “Hearing is Living” study is. You can order a hardcopy of the study free of charge via info(at)hear-the-world.com.