Could new audio technology lower the frustration of loneliness? It’s possible.

Can hearing aids solve loneliness issues? Hearing professionals say yes and explain what will come from a pair of the new type of hearing aids - Image by ConsumerAffairs

Three hearing aid brands are the first to roll out the technology.

Loneliness is an epidemic – a public health crisis in the United States – and research is now showing that feeling left alone and nowhere to go is bad for emotional health, but it can prove to be dangerous to someone’s physical health, too.

In older adults, loneliness has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease (29%), stroke (32%), and dementia (50%). For people with hearing loss, socializing can be a challenge.

A recent study by hearing aid manufacturer GN/ReSound found that 75% of people who experience hearing loss have changed how they “socialize”, suggesting potential long-term implications for their sense of connectedness with loved ones and coworkers.

Fortunately, hearing aid technology is making improvements like it never has. The story ConsumerAffairs recently wrote about “secret tech” is quickly becoming old news.

Advancements in hearing aid technology have helped users to connect better to the world around them, with most modern hearing aids equipped with features like a new type of Bluetooth technology to help them connect to various devices and aid communication.

Three hearing aid brands – Jabra, ReSound, and Rexton – are all offering hearing aids that have “Auracast,” a new Bluetooth-driven technology. These hearing aids connect to a variety of digital devices that, in turn, make it possible for someone to stream hands-free calls from iPhone or iPad.

They’ll also connect to an Apple Mac computer so someone can stream FaceTime calls or audio straight to their ears without having to use the computer speaker or a headset.

The Jabra and Rexton models are available at Costco. Jabra and ReSound are owned by the same company, so there’s probably some similarities between the individual technologies.

Why this technology makes a difference

For techies, the Auracast thing is definitely cool, but Dr. Jenn Schumacher, audiologist at ReSound, told ConsumerAffairs that this hearing aid technology helps to improve how users combat feelings of loneliness.

“Hearing aids amplify sound and enhance the ability to hear and understand speech, helping users participate better in conversations,” Schumacher said. And it’s not just streaming from your phone or your tablet, either.

With Bluetooth-connection capabilities, a user can stream voice assistants as well as hear announcements on a train or an airport. Some devices, like the TV-Streamer+, can be put into Auracast broadcast mode by adjusting their settings, too. 

And improved communication means that someone can stay better informed and engaged with their communities, too. That could help reduce the sense of isolation and uncertainty that can come from feeling disconnected from their surroundings.

Increased emotional well-being

“Hearing loss can increase feelings of loneliness, frustration, anxiety, and isolation. However, hearing aids can help create a positive impact on the emotional well-being of individuals with hearing loss,” Schumacher said.

But how?

She says that hearing aids improve an individual’s communication abilities, which in turn, helps to reduce the social stress that may arise from finding it difficult to understand, follow, or participate in conversations. Plus, it can promote increased self-esteem. 

“Improved communication leads to more meaningful connections and increased social engagement, which are important factors in maintaining emotional well-being and preventing feelings of isolation that may arise from hearing loss,” she said.

Enhanced relationships and a confidence boost

The question “What did you say?” might not go completely away, but being able to communicate more clearly could sure help a lot of hearing-frustrated couples, too.

While it’s not a written guarantee that a hearing aid manufacturer would ever offer, Schumacher said that improved interactions can lead to more meaningful relationships and connections, which helps to create a better sense of belonging and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Those who are hard of hearing spend too much time being bummed out that they can’t hear well, but wearing hearing aids and being more immersed in your surroundings can boost self-confidence immensely because individuals can actively engage in conversations more naturally and feel less alienated, Schumacher thinks.

Another thing that can help with loneliness? Again, no guarantee, but “Having increased confidence as a result of wearing hearing aids will encourage the user to participate more in social interactions rather than isolating themselves due to anxiety or frustration,” she concluded.

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