KOCHI: Hearing loss affects more than five per cent of the world’s population. Almost 360 million individuals are currently living with hearing loss worldwide. One out five people has hearing loss and would benefit from solutions like hearing aids or implants.The quality of life in an older adult with hearing loss can be drastically affected. The severity of loss is associated with reduced quality of life in older adults. For them, the volume is not necessarily the issue. Difficulties with sound and word discrimination may also be involved. The need to repeat responses adds to negative perceptions of our senior citizens.
Hearing loss can create a psychological confinement. Yet, many older adults with hearing loss deny its impact on the quality of their life. The average delay in seeking medical help is five to seven years.
Deafness does not in itself cause cognitive problems or psychiatric disorders. However, children with hearing impairment are at greater risk of developing emotional or behavioural problems and neurodevelopmental disorders.
Lack of effective communication with caregivers is very evident y in families with hearing parents and deaf children. The lack of or delayed language development is one of the most important environmental causative factors. It may also affect the individual’s cognitive ability to understand and share the emotional states of others and develop friendships.
There is evidence that if early diagnosis is accompanied with medical support before the baby reaches six months of age, the parental adjustment is better and the child’s language development will improve.
Facilitating better interaction between parents and their deaf child minimises the possibility that the child will develop an attachment disorder or emotional dysregulation. Dr George Kuruvilla Thamarappally is the head of ENT and Cochlear implant surgery department, Lourdes Hospital Kochi. (The views expressed by the author are his own)