Online tools help make the most of your hearing aid appointments
It’s not too late to add hearing health to your list of New Year’s resolutions, especially if you noticed you weren’t hearing as well as you used to during the holidays. In fact, getting your hearing in shape fits right into your other health-related resolutions, as untreated hearing loss can cause a multitude of emotional and physical concerns including depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Don’t know where to start? We’ve got you covered. The first step to better hearing is to have your hearing evaluated by a qualified hearing healthcare professional. They can determine how well you’re hearing and recommend an individualized treatment plan designed to get you hearing your best. To get you prepared for that first appointment, we recommend three online tools, created by the The Ida Institute, a nonprofit organization created to foster a better understanding of hearing loss.
Identify your hearing challenges
When is your sense of hearing most valuable to you? The Ida Institute’s Living Well resource is designed to help you identify when and where it’s most important for you to communicate. In the privacy of your own home, you select three separate communication situations and develop an online plan for each of them. The process includes:
- Choosing an illustrated communication situation using Ida Institute’s photo library or by uploading a photo from your own library.
- Describing the situation and why you have trouble hearing in that environment.
- Reading about strategies you can use to improve your hearing in these situations and choosing one that will work for you.
- Describing how you will achieve success with your strategy.
You can rate each listening situation as easy, medium or hard and identify someone who will help you hear better in each situation. Once you’ve completed a plan for all three listening environments, you can save it to your computer as a PDF file, which you can email to your hearing healthcare professional or print and bring with you to your appointment.
Ask the right questions
Having an honest and effective dialog with any medical professional is an essential part of maintaining good health, and the same is true of your hearing. The more information you provide, the better able they are to determine a successful course of treatment that fits both your lifestyle and your pocketbook.
It can sometimes be difficult to remember what you want to share with your healthcare provider once you are sitting in front of them. With Ida Institute’s My Turn to Talk tool, you can compile a list of hearing-related questions and concerns to take along with you to your next appointment. The resource guides you by asking who is part of your social network and gives you an opportunity to make notes concerning:
- Hopes for improved communication that better hearing will provide.
- Concerns about your hearing loss and the way you communicate with those in your social network.
- Needs for support concerning how you live with your hearing loss.
- Questions to ask your hearing healthcare professional.
Like the Living Well resource, this list can be emailed to your hearing healthcare professional or downloaded to your computer, where you can print the PDF file and take it with you to your next appointment.
Motivation for seeking treatment
What is your motivation for correcting your hearing loss? Studies indicate that people wait an average of seven years before seeking treatment for their hearing loss. What’s the big deal, you ask? During those seven years, your audiological system atrophies similar to how muscles can stop working when you don't use them. Your brain forgets how to interpret sounds it hasn’t heard in awhile, and the center responsible for speech and sound shrinks. Because everything is related, the centers responsible for memory and sensory integration suffer too, ultimately increasing your risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The good news? In addition to enhancing relationships with friends and loved ones, amplification can prevent this cognitive decline. Ida’s Motivation Tools resource helps you take an honest look at the situations in which you have difficulty hearing and identify why you would like to hear better in these environments. Additionally, the resources give you an opportunity to define:
- How important it is for you to improve your hearing in each environment on a scale from one to ten.
- Why communication in each situation is important to you.
- What will happen if you don’t seek treatment.
- How improved hearing with hearing aids would enhance your quality of life.
As with the other two tools, your notes can be emailed to a hearing healthcare professional or downloaded as a PDF file to your computer and printed to take along to your next appointment.
Whether you’ve made getting healthy a New Year’s resolution or not, treating your hearing loss can improve your overall health as well as relationships with friends, colleagues and loved ones. Use the Ida Institute’s tools to help you prepare, then pick up the phone and make an appointment with a qualified hearing healthcare professional to have your hearing evaluated. Use Healthy Hearing’s Find a Professional directory to identify a professional in your community committed to helping you hear your best.