Hearing-​impaired people and loneliness

November 10, 2016


Loneliness does not always result from being alone. And people who are alone are not always lonely.

Loneliness cannot be measured only on isolation. It is more a feeling than a characteristic. We can be isolated in many ways (geographic, social, affective), but we can feel lonely without any of the criteria for isolation. Loneliness is a sensitive notion. It cannot be easily understood since it is so complex and it comes more from a feeling than a clear reality.1

But what about loneliness in the hearing-impaired elderly?

On the one hand, if we consider the possibility that the hearing-impaired elderly are more likely to be victims of ageism or abuse, and on the other hand that they may have more difficulty seeking help and support, for example by avoiding calling crisis lines,2 then we can talk about a double disqualification (exclusion).3

As the World Health Organization (WHO) describes it, this double disqualification will have a significant social and affective impact that will lead to withdrawal and isolation.

This makes it easier to understand why significant distress tied to a sense of loneliness is frequently observed in the hearing-impaired elderly.

What if we offered them a double dose of attention?

Michèle Dion, “L’isolement et la solitude des personnes âgées au prisme du regard démographique,” Gérontologie et société. 2016/1 (Vol. 38/No. 149), pp. 55–66.
Tel-Aide and Ligne Aide Abus Ainés:
www.telaide.org, http://www.telaide.qc.ca,
Pouliot, L-M., Beaudoin, M. and Poitras, M., “La surdité n’a pas d’âge.” Vie et vieillissement. Vol. 11, No. 1, 2013.