Good Friends Make for Better Health

Friendships and social connections are a key factor in living a longer, healthy life. This was demonstrated in“The Longevity Project,’’ a book-length report on an 80-year study of 1,528 individuals that began with Stanford University psychologist Lewis Terman in 1921 and was completed by the psychology professors Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin.

In a 2011 interview, I asked Friedman and Martin what the single strongest social predictor of long life was. Their unhesitating answer: a strong social network.

People with hearing loss sometimes have to make themselves keep up those social connections. If you know you’re not going to be able to hear at a lecture, a party or a restaurant, the tendency is to stay home. This is true also of places of worship. It’s one reason why assistive listening devices and hearing loops are so important.

Lectures, classes and worship services are places where many of us go for social, intellectual and spiritual stimulation. They are where we meet new people and hear new ideas. If a venue like a lecture hall or place of worship is looped, it becomes accessible to those with hearing loss simply by a flip of the T-coil switch on their hearing aid….

Read more here to find out about some studies on the negative effects of social isolation and depression on cognitive health. And read more to find ways to keep those old friends and find new ones.

4 thoughts on “Good Friends Make for Better Health

  1. Well said, Katherine! How about an article on “Do I have a T switch in my hearing aid and if I do, how do I use it?” There was a frustrating kerfuffle at the MoMA event because the people who had signed up for neck loops had no idea if they had t switches in their aids and MoMA staff, who are not audiologists, did not know how to help them. I only learned of this after the fact because I was part of the streaming captions group, which was a big success. Lauren did an excellent job and our docent was outstanding. We need to encourage audiologists and HLAA Chapters to teach their patients/members about t switches.

    Two days to spring! I’m ignoring the snow tomorrow. ~**

    Ruth

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  2. Although going to lectures, social events and religious services is a way to make friends, what works best for me is participating in the activities I love. I’ve found friends as a volunteer gardener in Central Park, as a volunteer for hearing accessible gallery tours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in painting classes, knitting groups and,
    as a Board Member of the HLAA NYC Chapter. I have a profound hearing loss. Participating in useful activities that don’t require hearing a lot can be very rewarding!

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  3. Thank you Ruth, I couldn’t agree more. I also think that being involved in advocacy is tremendously rewarding – and empowering. You’re doing good for others, and for yourself. Lend a hand to HLAA’s efforts, be open about your hearing loss, ask for accommodations. These actions all are personally rewarding, but also help others to achieve equality and access.

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    • As an advocate for 35 plus years, I know how rewarding and empowering asking for hearing accommodations can be. On Tuesday, March 17, 2015, HLAA NYC visited the Museum of Modern Art for a private, after hours tour. This event came about because of my long term relationship with Francesca Rosenberg, Director, Community and Access Programs at MoMA. Ms. Rosenberg has been a leader in opening MoMA to people with disabilities for more than twenty five years and has always asked about the needs of our group. She agreed when I requested a private, hearing accessible gallery tour with assistive devices and streaming CART for HLAA NYC. Fifty five people participated in the event. Forty people used headphones or neck loops with their hearing aids. A group of fifteen had access to streaming captions on their smart phones in addition to using assistive listening devices. For some people, this was their first experience with hearing access at a museum. They were excited and delighted. I was pleased to have initiated this event and been able to share the enjoyment of art with them.

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