Back to school: Get back into your hearing health routine
School supplies fill the aisles in your favorite big box store and television commercials feature kids of all ages strutting in the newest styles -- it can only mean one thing. It’s back-to-school season! And while you may not be planning a return to the hallowed halls of yesteryear anytime soon, there’s no reason this season shouldn’t inspire you to dust off your hearing health routine. The holidays are just around the corner, you know, and you’ll want to be hearing your best at the family dinner table this year. Here’s how:
Dust off those hearing aids
If you’ve been diagnosed with hearing loss and bought hearing aids to treat it, resolve to get them out of the drawer and back into your ears where they belong. They can’t help you hear better if you won’t wear them.
If it’s been awhile since you wore them, make an appointment to see your hearing healthcare professional. Just like last year’s school clothes, they may not fit as well as they used to. At your appointment:
- Explain why you aren’t wearing your hearing aids -- and be specific. Are they uncomfortable? Do you hear annoying feedback? Could you use some additional education on how to use them? If they aren’t meeting your expectations, speak up. With the variety of hearing device manufacturers on the market today, it’s highly likely there is one with features that meet your needs. And don’t be embarrassed, either. If the only thing preventing you from hearing your best is your pride, it’s time to pick up the phone.
- Have your hearing evaluated. Has it changed since your last test? Depending on the age of your hearing devices, your hearing healthcare professional may need to make a few adjustments. Have a conversation with them about your listening environments. Do you want to be able to talk on the phone better? Is it important for you to hear the sermon at church or the lecturer at the local university? Let them know what sounds you want to be hearing again.
- Ask to have your hearing aids cleaned and inspected. Earwax, dust and other debris can clog the microphone and tubing, creating weak or distorted sound and a good cleaning might make a world of difference. If you don’t already have one, ask for a cleaning kit so you can clean your hearing aids at home.
- Find out what’s new. Your hearing aid manufacturer may have developed a new piece of assistive technology which can help you better hear the television, understand cell phone conversations or actively engage in discussions at the holiday party.
If you know you need hearing aids, get them
How long ago did the hearing healthcare professional give you the news that you have hearing loss and recommend hearing aids as treatment? You may not want to wait another year. Two recent studies indicate that untreated hearing loss can put you at risk for developing dementia as you age. One study from researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggests that hearing loss could provide clues to early detection of Alzheimer’s disease. The other report from the Lancet Commissions on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care identifies nine risk factors for dementia -- and hearing loss is one of them.
How long have you had hearing loss? Don't put off getting help any longer!
Other studies show untreated hearing loss may be an indicator of medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and hypertension as well as put you at risk for developing depression, anxiety and social isolation. In other words, the case for wearing hearing aids is much more compelling than the reasons for not wearing them.
If a financial situation is preventing you from making this purchase, now is the time to talk to your hearing healthcare professional. Many of these small business owners have either created foundations to help their patients afford the cost of hearing devices or are able to put you in touch with other community resources. If you’re a veteran, contact your local Veteran’s Administration. If you’re still employed or are attending school, contact your state’s Vocational Rehabilitation Center. In both cases, you may qualify for assistance.
Schedule regular hearing evaluations
Any educator will tell you regular testing is important, and that applies to hearing evaluations as well as school exams. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with hearing loss, it’s still a good idea to know how well you are hearing. Once your hearing healthcare professional has a baseline test, they can monitor your hearing health as the years progress.
The Association of Independent Hearing Healthcare Professionals recommends this hearing evaluation schedule:
- 18-45 years of age, every five years
- 45-65 years of age, every three years
- 65 years of age and older, every two years
If you don’t have a hearing healthcare professional, search Healthy Hearing’s Find a Professional directory to find verified patient reviews of qualified hearing healthcare professionals in your community. Whether you’re still sitting in a classroom or are happy being a student of life, taking a few moments to get back into a good hearing health routine is as simple as A-B-C.