Have you noticed a change in your relationships lately? Maybe you don’t talk to your partner as much as you used to, or it’s harder to carry on a conversation with your children or grandchildren. Are you staying home instead of attending social gatherings, or spending less time with friends? Have people told you that you might have a hearing problem?
If you’re answering “yes” to any of these questions, it could be that hearing loss is starting to impact your life. Usually, the first person to notice our hearing loss is not us, but someone we know. Maybe they’re hearing something that we can’t, or they’re noticing that we’re missing more of what they say. If it sounds to us like everyone is mumbling, it could be that we have mild to moderate hearing loss, where especially high-frequency sounds don’t come through as clearly as they used to.
Hearing Loss Is Common
While it can be difficult to accept that hearing loss is happening, there can be comfort in knowing that it is incredibly widespread. About 48 million Americans are living with some form of hearing loss. About one-third of people aged 60–69 have hearing loss, and the fraction jumps to two-thirds for those over 70. Nearly 100% of centenarians have hearing loss, suggesting that it will happen to all of us if we only live long enough.
Regular Hearing Tests
The most important step to take, when we or someone close to us suspects we might have hearing loss, is to schedule a hearing test. By getting a hearing test, we can find out whether we have hearing loss, how much we have, and get a professional opinion about whether hearing aids are right for us at this point. In fact, the Better Hearing Institute, a non-profit organization, recommends that everyone get a hearing test once every decade until age 50, and once every three years after that. Regular testing helps us see exactly when it’s time to start wearing hearing aids, so we can altogether avoid some of the complications that can come with untreated hearing loss.
Hearing Loss Can Strain Our Relationships
One of the first problems that we encounter when hearing loss sets in happens in social situations. In larger groups of people, or when background noise is present, we have an especially difficult time understanding speech. We get tired faster, and generally don’t have as much fun in the company of others. Many people are tempted to start avoiding social situations altogether, but as you might imagine, this is not the road to happiness and contentment. Rather than allowing ourselves to become isolated by our hearing loss, we can take the steps necessary to get hearing aids and continue to enjoy our time in the company of friends and loved ones.
While hearing loss might be difficult for us, it can be just as difficult for those who are close to us. Partners and spouses experience a sense of loss just as much as we do, as they wish to connect with us in the way that conversation once made possible. When hearing loss is an issue, conversation often gets reduced to the bare minimum. But when we can hear each other, we can look out at the world together and experience all that is there with mutual attention.
Hearing Aids Restore Our Ability to Communicate, and More
Hearing aids reduce miscommunication, lower frustration, increase intimacy and generally make it easier to have a real conversation. And while improving our relationships is an incredibly important reason to start wearing hearing aids, that’s not even the whole picture.
Those who get hearing aids tend to have a more positive outlook on themselves. Hearing aids help us feel more confident and independent, which makes us feel more capable and generally better. Studies have shown that hearing aids not only promote a greater sense of optimism about our own lives, but about the world in general! It’s hard to imagine that by doing something as simple as putting in a set of hearing aids we can improve our sense of optimism, but it’s true. When we can hear each other, we can feel better and more confident with the people around us, which translates to a healthier understanding of ourselves in the world, and ultimately a better opinion about the world itself!
Whether you or a loved one is just starting to have issues with hearing loss or has been dealing with it for a long time, make an appointment for a hearing test today and see for yourself just how much a good set of hearing aids can improve your relationships… and your life!