Psychology of Hearing Loss

It seems pretty obvious that hearing loss has pretty significant psychological effects on people. Fortunately, scientists are finally starting to study these effects on people with hearing loss who are not Culturally Deaf.

April 2013 – Bloch Healing Touch Psychotherapy for People with Hearing Loss

February 2013 – Straining to Hear and Fend Off Dementia

June 2012 – Untreated Hearing Loss Can Lead To Depression, Social Isolation

June 2012 – People With Good Hearing Have Better Relationships

February 2012 – Study Draws Connection Between Good Hearing, Good Self-Esteem

January 2012 – What do we really know about hearing loss and cognitive function?

January 2012 – Hearing loss and dementia: protecting yourself from a misdiagnosis

December 2011 – The chicken and the egg: Cognitive decline and hearing loss

December 2011 – Study Shows Hearing Aids Improve Quality of Life

August 2011 – Stigma and Self-stigma Associated with Acquired Hearing Loss in Adults

July 2011 – HLAA Convention: Surviving the Stress of Hearing Loss: What You Can Do

February 2011 – Dementia Symptoms Include Hearing Loss

December 2010 – Holiday Season Can Be Especially Difficult for People with Hearing Loss

October 2010 – Link between Hearing Loss and Depression Highlighted

July 2010 – Hearing Loss: A Threat to Mental Health

July 2010 – Hearing Loss in Older Adults – Its Effect on Mental Health

July 2009 – 2009 HLAA Convention: Dementia Misdiagnosis and Hearing Loss

July 2007 – Here’s our report on the stress management workshop from the 2007 HLAA convention.

July 2007 – How to Avoid Unhealthy Responses to the Challenge of Hearing Loss – Presented by Terry and Denise Portis at the 2007 HLAA Convention

July 2007 – 2007 HLAA Convention Research Symposium: Adapting to Hearing Loss and Quality of Life: A Psychosocial Look at the Effects of Hearing Loss

January 2007 – Psychotherapy Quiets Concerns Over Ringing in the Ears

October 2006 – ALDAcon 2006 Presentation – Coaching and Late Onset Hearing Loss – A Partnership that Works

July 2006 – Why People Delay Dealing with Hearing Loss

March 2006 – Here’s Jim Lemonds’ very insightful article on how hearing loss affects people, and on some of the things we can do to reduce the impact of hearing loss.

December 2005 – People who have not experienced sudden hearing loss are generally unable to imagine the impact it can have on a person’s life. But it’s easy to imagine that the assistance of a good coach might be crucial in helping someone overcome that experience. Here’s Bonnie O’Leary’s report on a 2005 SHHH Convention workshop on this topic.

March 2005 – Here’s a report on Susan Roberts’ “Positive Thinking and Hearing Loss” workshop, presented at the 2005 SHHH-CA Convention

August 2003 – Here’s an absolutely fascinating discussion of some of the psychological aspects of hearing loss. The discussion took place on an email list that focuses on hearing loss and the workplace.

December 2002 – Those of you who were fortunate enough to attend ALDACON 2002 in Orlando, FL, probably got to experience Dr. Harvey’s Keynote Address firsthand. For the less fortunate, here’s the text of the address. It’s very powerful stuff!

August 2000 – In her 1969 book entitled “On Death and Dying”, a renowned Swiss-American psychiatrist named Elisabeth Kubler Ross presented the five psychological stages that terminally ill people go through – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It was later realized by professionals and laymen alike that people often experience these same stages as they cope with other losses. Of particular interest to us, of course, is the fact that people respond to their hearing loss with these same emotions. Grieving Over Hearing Loss explores these similarities.

August 2000 – Edna Shipley Conner presented a workshop on the Successful Coping Attributes of the Hearing Impaired at the 2000 SayWhatClub conference. Here is a workshop summary.

Straining to Hear and Fend Off Dementia

February 2013

Over the past few years, Dr. Lin has delivered unwelcome news to those of us with hearing loss. His work looks “at the interface of hearing loss, gerontology and public health,” as he writes on his Web site. The most significant issue is the relation between hearing loss and dementia. In a 2011 paper in The Archives of Neurology, Dr. Lin and colleagues found a strong association between the two. The researchers looked at 639 subjects, ranging in age at the beginning of the study from 36 to 90 (with the majority between 60 and 80). The subjects were part of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. None had cognitive impairment at the beginning of the study, which followed subjects for 18 years; some had hearing loss. “Compared to individuals with normal hearing, those individuals with a mild, moderate, and severe hearing loss, respectively, had a 2-, 3- and 5-fold increased risk of developing dementia over the course of the study,” Dr. Lin wrote in an e-mail summarizing the results. The worse the hearing loss, the greater the risk of developing dementia. The correlation remained true even when age, diabetes and hypertension – other conditions associated with dementia – were ruled out. 

What do we really know about hearing loss and cognitive function?

January 2012

Competing schools of thought exist on the effects of hearing loss on cognitive function. Studies reporting an association assert that declines in sensory acuity limiting the flow of information to the brain cause declines in cognitive abilities. But other studies reporting no association have argued that the decline in sensory acuity, a peripheral decline, does not necessarily affect central function. In some cases, an individual may become more resourceful and tap into more cognitive resources to compensate for the reduction in sensory input, leaving researchers perplexed about whether there is an effect. From the studies I reviewed, variability in study design appears to contribute to inconsistent results, such as those that included research participants with well-fitted hearing aids that compensate for hearing loss. Results were also confounded by researchers who employed different methods to quantify hearing loss or who failed to account for demographic factors that may have affected cognitive function.  

Hearing loss and dementia: protecting yourself from a misdiagnosis

January 2012

If you are of a certain age and have  some gray in your hair, you will  likely find yourself a victim of ageism. As with all “-isms,” ageism is  the practice of making assumptions  about a person’s intelligence and  abilities based solely upon superficial facts-in this case, age-and  taking actions based upon those  assumptions. This leads to misconceptions, biases, and mistakes.   So, how does this affect you? When  ageism is coupled with hearing  loss, it can be a dangerous combination in medical and emergency  situations. It is not unusual for  people with a hearing impairment  to end up in an ambulance and/or  an emergency room without anyone being aware of their hearing  loss. 

Stigma and Self-stigma Associated with Acquired Hearing Loss in Adults

August 2011

In 2010-2011, the Ida Institute ( and its faculty-which included Leslie Jones, PhD, Patricia McCarthy, PhD, Christopher Lind, PhD, and Jean-Pierre Gagné, PhD-organized a series of seminars on the theme Living Well with Hearing Loss. This venue provided the faculty members with an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of “living well with hearing loss.” Because of their academic and research interests, it was obvious to the authors of the present article that, for many individuals, a major obstacle to “living well with hearing loss” is the social and self-stigma associated with hearing loss. In order to live well with hearing loss, one must recognize and accept hearing loss. Specifically, many people must overcome the misplaced shame and poor self-esteem that they may experience. Only then is it possible to seek solutions to the difficulties attributable to their hearing loss experienced in everyday activities. Once this is achieved (if ever), they can extend their audiologic rehabilitation (AR) goals to activities that they identify as components

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