During this pandemic, you have personally experienced social isolation. My patients have told me they haven’t interacted in-person with loved ones or friends for weeks, if not months.
As humans, we thrive on healthy social interactions. Without them, your physical, mental, and cognitive health can suffer. According to a 2019 study led by Kassandra Alcaraz, Ph.D., MPH, a public health researcher with the American Cancer Society: “Our research really shows that the magnitude of risk presented by social isolation is very similar in magnitude to that of obesity, smoking, lack of access to care and physical inactivity.”
You might be thinking, “How can a lack of social interaction worsen my hearing?” While social isolation may not affect the level at which you can hear, it can affect your brain’s ability to process the information. Hearing is not just about your ears. Your brain plays a big role in how you process and understand sound.
As we age, our cognition can be affected by decreased social interaction. As our cognitive function declines, so does our ability to process information. For many, this change may seem like hearing loss, but what is actually happening is the loss of the ability to process the information while the function of hearing remains the same.
Although safely interacting in the Illinois Valley may not be possible, make use of virtual communication methods this year such as Facetime or Zoom to keep your brain active and social.