Many people's New Year's resolutions revolve around physical health, relationships and work. But everyone should consider making a few easy vows for their hearing health. Here are some of our best ideas - for those with hearing loss and those without:
Healthy hearing resolutions
1. Protect your ears
|Sound level in decibels (dB)||Safe duration per day|
|115||15 mins. or less|
This new year, vow to do your best to protect your ears from noise-induced hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss has become increasingly common, especially among younger people who use iPods and other personal listening devices. Be conscious of your ears! Never turn your music up louder to drown out another noise, and while listening to music, take breaks to protect your hearing.
Additionally, invest in some ear plugs, especially if your recreation activities - like snowmobiling, motorcycling or woodworking - involve dangerously high decibels. Ear plugs can also protect your hearing while attending a concert or other very loud event. Another measure you can take at similar events is to note where the loudspeakers are and make sure to sit far away from them.
2. Educate yourself and others
Learn about how your hearing works and know how loud is too loud! Here's a chart with data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration about safety and decibel levels:
3. Know the signs of hearing loss
Take a hearing loss quiz - like this one from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders - and learn what to look for in yourself and others as signs and symptoms of hearing loss. Someone with hearing loss might:
- Frequently misunderstand what others are saying.
- Ask people to repeat themselves often.
- Have difficulty following a conversation involving two or more people.
- Complain that others mumble.
- Have difficulty hearing over the phone.
- Turn up the volume of TV or radio to a point where it is too loud for others.
- Need to strain to understand in a noisy environment.
- Feel it's especially difficult to understand women's and children's voices.
- Have academic problems.
- Get distracted easily and seem to have a short attention span or poor memory for words and sounds.
4. Get your hearing checked
If you think you have hearing loss, don't wait to get your ears checked out. Hearing loss tends to progress, and it's important to be proactive in protecting your hearing so you can be fully connected in your daily life, in relationships and at work.
Resolve to improve communication
If you or someone in your family has hearing loss, you likely know that it can sometimes put a strain on relationships. Good communication can never be taken for granted. But this new year, you can resolve to avoid or lessen the likelihood of frustration due to communication mishaps by taking some of these steps:
1. Practice good communication habits
Let others know that you have difficulty hearing so that they can adjust for your needs. For example, if you're planning to eat out with friends, ask to go at the least busy hours - such as Saturday lunch rather than dinner - and pick a place that doesn't generally play music. Do your best to advocate for your needs!
2. Tell your family and friends what you need
If you have hearing loss, do your best to let your family members know what you need upfront for successful communication. They can do some of these easy things:
- Get your attention by saying your name before starting a conversation.
- Avoid talking to you from another room.
- Keep their hands away from their mouths and avoid chewing gum so you can speech read if necessary.
- Go to a room with little background noise and ample lighting for better communication.
3. Embrace aural rehabilitation
Aural rehabilitation classes help you and your family adjust to hearing loss. Aside from giving you tips on adapting to hearing aids and other assistive listening devices, they can also help you learn to manage conversations and take control of your communication. Search for a local class that also involves family members, or look for resources online.
4. Find support
Hearing loss can be tough to navigate because it makes communication extra challenging. Find an online or in-person support group where you can commiserate with others with hearing loss and learn their tips for better communication with family and friends.