Start the New Year with New Ears: Why be left out of the conversation?
Hearing is so essential to enjoying our everyday lives. Without it, conversations are awkward, music is dull and the laughter at family gatherings is muffled.
You may have noticed some of the above symptoms of hearing loss at your family gatherings over the holidays. Perhaps you found it difficult to make out what a grandchild was saying to you at Thanksgiving dinner, or you had to frequently ask people to repeat themselves. It can be as frustrating for our families and friends as it can be for those of us with hearing loss.
Why leave yourself out of the conversation? You don’t have to go through life hearing as if you have a set of earmuffs on your ears. Here are some reasons to finally get that hearing aid you’ve been putting off so long:
- Improved family life. Gael Hannan at Hearing Health Matters said one of the top reasons to get good hearing aids is to improve your family life. She said, “Relatives and friends will start listening to you again when it’s clear that you’re now hearing them. It’s not a person’s hearing loss that irritates family members, but the unwillingness to admit their loss and do something about it.”In addition, Hannan said your social life will improve when you get good hearing aids. “You’ll be able to converse better in noisy situations,” she said. Crowded gatherings of family and friends often produce a din of conversation and noise that can make it extra difficult for those of us with hearing loss to zero in on what someone is saying to us. A good set of hearing aids will remove that issue.
One source said your spouse will be relieved that he or she doesn’t have to serve as your interpreter anymore, and grandkids won’t have to put up with you saying “What?” hundreds of times.
- Be fully engaged in life, everywhere. This piece from the New York Times said hearing-impaired patients would often live with hearing loss for seven to 10 years before seeing an audiologist and getting hearing aids. The article quoted Dr. Linda S. Remensnyder, who said, “The Number One thing I get from patients is ‘I hear what I want to hear.’ What they don’t understand is that in order to be fully engaged in life, you have to be fully engaged everywhere.”Good hearing can help us be more engaged in life, whether we’re paying for groceries, ordering food at a restaurant, or playing with our grandchildren. Dr. Eric Hagberg was quoted in the same NYT article, where he said, “I tell patients who deny they have a problem, even after testing, to go home and pay attention to every time they say, ‘What?’ or they miss the punchline on TV or ask people to repeat something. They usually come back in a week,” at which point, he said, they’re ready for a hearing aid. They realize they are not fully engaged in life.
- Improved memory — and hearing — retention. For years, researchers have studied the link between hearing loss and dementia. This study examined the relationship and found that hearing loss is independently associated with incident all-cause dementia. It said further study was warranted to determine whether hearing loss is a marker for early-stage dementia or is a modifiable risk factor. The New York Times article linked above said with severe hearing loss, the risk of dementia can be five times as high.Beyond that, the NYT article said those who delay getting hearing aids may be making it worse on themselves. This goes along with the “If you don’t use it, you lose it” idea, according to one doctor the Times That doctor related the case of a nurse who, at age 90, has lived alone without auditory stimulation for years. “She doesn’t understand 50% of the words, and I can’t reverse that now,” the doctor said.
- Improved balance. Our quality of life is improved by our ability to stay mobile. But according to a study quoted by The Daily Mail, even mild hearing loss can result in a threefold increased risk of falling. The article said researchers suggested the brain may not be able to focus on balance and taking steady steps when it is struggling with hearing.The study reportedly said those with a 25-decibel hearing loss — classified as “mild” — were nearly three times more likely to have a medical history of falling, and every 10-decibel loss after that point increased by 1.4 times the likelihood of falling. The findings reportedly held true regardless of race, gender, age and other demographic information.
Improved hearing could improve our ability to be mobile and confident in our movements, which has health benefits in addition to the social benefits of being more active with our family and friends.
If you’ve noticed you’re having difficulty hearing, don’t put off hearing aids another year. Make 2017 the year you get your New Ears for the New Year.
Image Source: National Institutes of Health