Have you been asking yourself lately "Do I have a hearing problem? Is it possible that I might need a hearing aid?" Here are some questions that will help you decide for yourself.
Do you constantly have to ask people to repeat themselves?
Do you hear people's voices but can't understand their words?
Do you have to have the television or radio so loud it bothers others?
Do you decide not to attend parties, meetings, classes, church, etc., because you can't hear?
Do you find yourself nodding and smiling, but you aren't sure about what someone just said to you?
Hearing loss effects the social, emotional, psychological, and physical well-being of people.
As time goes on, more physical and cognitive ills have been linked to hearing loss.
Only a formal hearing test conducted by a professional is reliable to know what type of hearing aid will fit your situation. If you think you may have a hearing problem, see a hearing specialist. Sooner, rather than later. There are many free hearing tests available from various providers. Go in and tell them that you are in an investigation phase and want to find out more before you purchase anything. Most professionals will give you the test and take a few minutes to tell you about the results and what their opinion is about your various options. Be sure to respect their time when you go in for a free consultation, as it is their livelihood.
Hearing loss effects many aspects of an individual's life. As you have a more difficulty understanding a conversation, you may start to become isolated socially. It can affect all of your relationships.
After a certain point, there may be a loss of income if the individual has a harder time doing 'normal hearing' tasks, such as talking on a telephone. There are some new technological ways to help the employee, including captioning phones. Learning about how to use these Assistive Listening Devices can help a person with hearing loss become empowered again.
You may be saying to yourself "Well, my hearing is not so bad right now. I can wait a little while longer to get tested and get aids, if I need them."
However, there are problems with waiting. Delays in getting hearing aids reduces the level to which hearing can be restored. If you don't use it, you lose it. Research points to even a mild or moderate loss as possibly being a problem. And there are other things to consider.
According to Johns Hopkins University, individuals with hearing loss are at a three-fold increased risk of falling. “Gait and balance are things most people take for granted, but they are actually very cognitively demanding,” Frank Lin, a coauthor of the study says. “If hearing loss imposes a cognitive load, there may be fewer cognitive resources to help with maintaining balance and gait.” Twenty to thirty percent of people who fall will suffer moderate to severe injuries such as cuts, hip fractures, or head traumas. These injuries can make it difficult to get around or live independently, and increase the risk of early death.
Just a mild to moderate hearing loss can possibly create diminished brain function that affects you in ways that we are just now beginning to understand. The results are not final but another study by Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging found that men and women with uncorrected hearing loss are much more likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer's disease. According the their findings, people with uncorrected, severe hearing loss were five times more likely to develop dementia than those with normal hearing. It is believed that even having mild hearing loss doubled the dementia risk. That risk, says Lin, appeared to increase once hearing loss began to interfere with the ability to communicate — for example, in a noisy restaurant.
If you have a hearing loss in just one ear, some professionals say that it's often better for your overall brain health to get two aids and give your brain the additional input that it may need to stay "hearing healthy."
All of this gloom and doom stuff is scary. It's controversial and it's still being researched. We have to know these things, in order to be prepared to take action, but it's not fun. If it's not depressing enough to have to deal with a hearing loss, now we have to worry about losing our minds and other health problems!
Research is now being done on people who have hearing loss that has been corrected and it looks likely that hearing aids make a big difference. Take your health and life into your own hands! Treat your hearing loss, keep your brain involved in things that interest you, with people who care — this will make a big difference to your physical health and mental well-being.
Only about one in five people who need hearing aids actually have them. A substantial number of those who have them do not use them because they bother them somehow or the various functions may seem too complex to understand. Once you get a hearing aid, it's important to have a provider with whom who feel comfortable because you almost certainly will need to go back multiple times to get them adjusted so that you are satisfied with them. Many people don't want to bother their provider with multiple questions; nevertheless, each of us must become our own advocates.
ALOHA has a weekly Peer Support group that meets 1-2 p.m. every Tuesday. Others with hearing loss attend and we share information, resources and personal experiences in order to help one another. There is a wealth of information at the meetings that isn't readily available elsewhere without a devoting a lot of time to research. The meetings are free of charge and open to the public. Families and loved ones are also welcome to attend. ALOHA also has an onsite demonstration lab where you can test various assistive listening devices including captioning phones. ALOHA is a non-profit organization that does not sell anything.
How do you find out if you have a hearing loss? See your physician or a hearing professional and get a test. Discuss what changes have been happening in your life regarding your hearing. When you are ready to think about buying a hearing aid, ALOHA can help you to educate yourself on what is available and how to know if you have a good hearing care specialist. Each person's hearing loss is unique and only you will be able to decide what works for you.
If you want more non-biased information about hearing aids or anything else regarding hearing loss, please contact ALOHA, the Adult Loss of Hearing Association at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 795-9887. You may also visit our website at: www.alohaaz.org.
For those who might be interested, ALOHA Vice-President Pam Wood will be giving a presentation "ALOHA-30 years and still going strong" On Monday, Oct. 7 in Green Valley. If you wish to attend, no reservation is required. The presentation will be at the Las Companas Retirement Campus "Recreation Building" at 10 a.m. The room is "Looped" and devices available for those who need hearing assistance. For driving directions contact email@example.com or (520) 625-9536.