Simple Ways to Make the Most of Better Hearing Month
May is better hearing month, so there’s no better time than now to reflect a bit on how you’re protecting your ears. Hearing may be more difficult as you age, and it’s purely natural. However, fuzzy sounds can become a big annoyance. Making sure you look after your hearing health is important to living an independent life as a senior.
Hearing loss can occur across all ages and for a number of reasons, but it is often most present in the 60-plus age range. In fact, according to National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), "age is the strongest predictor of hearing loss among adults ... with the greatest amount of hearing loss in the 60 to 69 age group."
Thankfully, there are many things within your control when it comes to promoting better hearing health. Aside from becoming educated on the facts of hearing loss, there are steps you can take in your day-to-day life to resolve hearing issues. There is much to know about hearing loss identification, prevention and treatment, and you should talk to a loved one if you can about action and solutions.
Basic facts about hearing loss
Hearing loss is a widespread public health issue: The Hearing Loss Association of America says around 20 percent of Americans are affected. However, by age 65, at least one out of three people will report some form of hearing loss.
Age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, is a gradual condition that affects both ears. While one-third of people by age 65 will report some form of hearing loss, by age 75 it is nearly half. Hearing loss in seniors most often comes about as changes to the inner ear occur with age, the NIDCD explained. Changes to the nerve pathways between the ear and the brain can also be at fault, as may certain medications and other conditions.
However, while hearing loss is naturally occurring, it may accelerate or worsen over time. And after six or more decades of being in the workforce and living life, all that noise almost always catches up.
How to recognize hearing loss
Effectively managing and treating hearing loss begins with recognizing its most common indicators and symptoms. Early detection is crucial to finding a solution (medical or otherwise). However, it’s understandable if hearing loss is a sensitive topic for you. It's important for you or a loved one to work through this barrier. If these signs become more noticeable or pronounced, it's time to say something:
- Having trouble hearing another person on the phone.
- Not being able to hear clearly in busy areas, whether in public or private.
- Constantly needing to turn up the volume of TV, radio or music.
- Feeling uncomfortable in social settings because of hearing difficulty.
- Asking family and friends to speak more slowly, loudly, or repeat themselves.
What you can do to prevent hearing loss
While age-related hearing loss can take a gradual toll, there are still many factors within your control. Taking action to lead a healthy and informed life can help mitigate hearing loss symptoms or onset. Some of the those choices may be no-brainers, like staying clear of constant loud noises, but others are less clear:
- Watch what you eat: Believe it or not, your diet can affect your hearing health. Certain vitamins and nutrients can have positive impacts on health. For instance, magnesium can protect sensitive inner ear hairs, which means it's a good idea to get fruits and vegetables rich in magnesium (bananas, artichokes, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes and broccoli). Nuts that contain cell-growing zinc and organ meats that promote better circulation are also options.
- Be mindful of surroundings: Enjoy spending a day at the ballpark, or even going to a craft convention? It's important to take precautions for such events if living with hearing loss. Earplugs can come in handy, and are especially needed when traveling on planes or trains. Also consider where you live. For example, if your home is by a railroad, the constant noise may prove troublesome.
How to find treatment
When professional attention is needed to further combat the effects of hearing loss, it's important that you or a loved one remain open to all options. As previously mentioned, there's a certain stigma to hearing loss, and that extends to things like wearing a hearing aid. However, advances in technology have made new models that are almost invisible to the naked eye possible, by resting in the ear canal. in any case, contacting an audiologist or consulting your primary physician is a needed step when experiencing any amount of hearing loss.
Being educated on hearing loss is important regardless of if you live in an independent retirement community or at home. Hearing health is closely tied to quality of life and protecting it means taking action, whether that means taking advantage of care services in a community or getting professional help.