Many of us have sat in a crowded restaurant and strained to hear our conversational partner’s words. Maybe we have to ask them to repeat themselves, or perhaps we just guess what was said and stumble through the discussion off-kilter. These moments can be annoying or even embarrassing. Still, when they become more frequent — or when the fear of not hearing correctly starts to impact your conversations negatively — it might be time to take action.
May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, a great time to think about how you can communicate better with the people you care about. Many adults experience hearing loss in later life. It’s the third most prevalent chronic health condition older adults face, with 48 million Americans living with hearing loss every day. One-third of people over age 64 have hearing loss; over 75, that number jumps to almost half.
Unfortunately, many people see hearing loss as a fact of life rather than a treatable condition. One in three people never seek treatment for hearing loss or even got their ears tested when they noticed it beginning to decline. Considering how effective the treatments can be, it’s a shame that so many people don’t feel empowered to get treatment. Luckily, there are lots of easy ways that seniors can protect their hearing. The first step should be medical intervention.
Get Medical Treatment For Hearing Loss
The type of treatment you’ll receive depends on the cause of your hearing loss. First, it’s essential to go to the doctor and get tested whenever you start to notice your hearing getting worse. After an examination and test, your doctor can suggest a plan to get your hearing back on track.
Some issues with hearing loss are solved by simply removing an earwax buildup. Others are treatable through surgery. A hearing aid can augment inner-ear damage, but even if conventional hearing aids don’t work for you, cochlear implants can still make a massive difference for people with severe loss. No matter the kind of loss you’re experiencing, there are many options out there to help.
Five Active Steps To Hear Better
Though tools and treatment can make a tremendous positive impact on a person’s hearing loss, the work doesn’t end with getting a good hearing aid. There’s a lot you can do daily to supplement hearing devices. Here are our five ways to immediately improve your hearing:
1. Stay Focused on the Conversation.
It can be harder than ever to remain solely focused on your conversational partner in today’s distractible age. However, it’s always easier to understand a conversation when you’re paying close attention and can use context clues whenever you miss a word. Be sure you’re giving the conversation your full attention so you can keep track of what your partner is saying.
2. Avoid Background Noises When You Can.
If you’re chatting with the TV on in the background, you might consider putting it on mute. Even if you have a hearing aid, it can’t always filter out the background noise from the sound of your loved one’s voice. Having to tune out distracting sounds makes it even more challenging to catch what the other person says. So next time you’re sitting down in a restaurant, consider asking for a table in a quieter corner.
3. Be Mindful of Your Posture and Position.
Even a tiny change in how or where you’re sitting can help improve your hearing. Turning to face someone directly allows your ears to best capture the sound of their voice. If you’re sitting too far away from someone, let alone trying to shout a conversation from another room, chances are it’s going to be harder to understand what they’re saying.
4. Listen With Your Eyes As Well As Your Ears.
If you’re having trouble hearing someone, you might wish you could just read their lips. The good news is that you don’t have to train yourself in lip-reading to use the same simple techniques. Watching a person’s lips while they speak can help your brain fill in the blanks of what a person is saying, even if you can’t hear the specific words.
5. Be Open About Your Hearing Difficulties.
The most critical step to improving your hearing is to be honest with the people in your life that you’re having trouble hearing them. By being open with the people you speak to most frequently, you can help them work with you to listen to every word of your conversations — and feel empowered to ask for repetition if you don’t.
Hearing Loss is Nothing to Be Ashamed Of
Without treatment, hearing loss can be a barrier between connecting and conversing with the people in your life. However, for many people, the challenges hearing loss presents are psychological as well. The social stigma that hearing loss only happens to older people makes many reluctant to admit they have a problem. They don’t want friends or family to see them as old or losing their faculties, and so they let hearing loss continue to lessen their quality of life rather than seeking treatment. Many people spend between seven and ten years struggling to converse before getting help for hearing loss.
An in-home caregiver can be an excellent resource for tips and practicing new listening techniques, and offering reassurance about hearing loss. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about when it comes to hearing loss, and a caregiver can help you adjust to a lifestyle built around better conversations and acceptance. If you’re still struggling with the idea of being open about getting treatment, talking to your doctor is a great place to start. From there, try opening up to a close loved one or caregiver about the challenges you’ve experienced. With your healthcare provider and loved ones advocating for you, it’s even easier to take steps towards getting help.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.