Hearing loss is an affliction that millions of people, both young and old, face in the United States. One’s likelihood of experiencing hearing loss grows as they age. Upon reaching age 75 or older, roughly half of seniors experience some form of hearing loss.
If you find yourself losing your hearing, you may start to feel scared or sad, but don’t worry. Hearing loss doesn’t have to affect your happiness. You can make a few changes to your life to help you cope with deafness and hearing loss as you age!
Talk to Your Doctor
The first step to coping with any health-related change in your life is to talk to your doctor. Not only can your doctor help you to understand your hearing loss better, but they can also work with you to come up with strategies to limit further damage to your hearing. For example, they may ask you to avoid loud sounds, like fireworks, or get regular hearing checkups to monitor your ear health. Your doctor may also give you ways to deal with the hearing loss you already have in your life. These may include some of the tips we discuss in this article, as well as ideas tailored to your personal life.
Your doctor can help you to understand your hearing loss better and work with you to come up with strategies to limit further damage.
It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about any changes with your health or any health goals you may have. They know you and your health history, and they should be able to give you more accurate suggestions that fit your needs.
As your hearing weakens, you’ll want to begin giving yourself every advantage you can when talking with others. A great step is to make sure that whoever you’re talking to knows you struggle with hearing. Don’t feel ashamed. Remember, millions of people experience hearing loss. Informing others about your hearing loss will allow them to accommodate you.
Don’t feel embarrassed if you ever need to ask someone to repeat something.
That said, there are other ways you can make conversing simpler for yourself. A big strategy involves facing your talking partner. Not only can this help you read their lips, you can also follow their body language and facial expressions, which can give you hints as to what they’re talking about or how they’re feeling. It can also be important to remove background noise, like that from televisions or crowds, so you can focus on the words being spoken to you. You may be paying attention, but the more noise there is, the harder it can be to pick out what you want to hear. Finally, don’t feel embarrassed if you ever need to ask someone to repeat something. It’s natural, and only takes a moment for someone to restate something.
Take Safety Precautions
Hearing is one of our major senses, and whenever one of them starts to weaken — whether it’s hearing or vision — you need to be extra careful about your safety. Fire safety is always important, but worsening hearing can make fire alarms less effective. Luckily, there are fire alarms — and other types of alarms and doorbells — that use different types of alerts, like flashing lights, low-pitch alarms, or vibrations.
As your hearing loss advances, you may need to consider giving up driving.
Taking extra safety precautions isn’t just something you should do in your home, either. If you have limited hearing ability, you need to rely on your other senses more for safety. Specifically, sight. Whenever you’re crossing the street, for example, make sure to double-check nobody is coming, since you won’t hear an oncoming car. As your hearing loss advances, you may need to consider giving up driving, since hearing can alert you to dangers, other vehicles (e.g., ambulances and police cars), and engine troubles or other troubles with your car.
Find Suitable Hearing Aids
A hearing aid, or two, can make a massive difference to your life if you have hearing loss. The only issue is that they can be incredibly expensive, and Original Medicare and Medicare Supplements rarely cover hearing aids, except in very specific circumstances. Some Medicare Advantage plans may help cover hearing aids, though you may still have out-of-pocket costs. If you need outside help affording hearing aids, there are charitable organizations who may be able to help.
Many hearing aid companies will give you a trial period, when you can make sure you’re happy with them before fully committing.
Once you have the funding figured out, it’s important to make sure you actually like the hearing aid so you’ll actually wear it. You’ll likely be able to choose from a number of different styles of hearing aid, many with additional features. A fitting will help you find what’s comfortable in your ear. Many hearing aid companies will give you a trial period, during which you can make sure you’re happy with them before fully committing to them. Use this time to your advantage and don’t be afraid to switch hearing aids if the ones you originally pick don’t work for you.
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If you’re beginning to lose your hearing, don’t let it get in the way of the things you love. Even if your favorite hobbies directly involve hearing, science is constantly making new discoveries and working on new treatments. Hearing loss doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying your life. Did you know that Beethoven composed music while completely deaf? While you don’t need to write legendary pieces of music, with the right attitude, lifestyle adjustments, and a little cleverness, hearing loss can just be an inconvenience and not much more!