I’m sorry, what did you say?
If you find yourself frequently having to ask this question during conversations, in person or on the phone, it might be because you need a hearing aid. October is National Protect Your Hearing Month according to the National Institutes of Health, or National Audiology Awareness Month, if you listen to the American Academy of Audiology. Whatever you call it, the message is the same.
Your Hearing Is Important!
Hearing loss is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s the third most common health problem in the US, second only to heart disease and arthritis – conditions that are also all too familiar to seniors. As it turns out, though, just half of those who can’t hear well are 65 or older. That’s because noise-induced hearing loss, or NIHL, can affect anyone.
It’s a noisy world out there, with everything from lawn mowers and hair dryers to concerts and crank-it-up-baby rock ‘n roll assaulting our ears every day. Remember that little shell-shaped organ in the ear that you studied in grade school anatomy – the cochlea? There are tiny hairs inside it that translate sounds into information for your brain. Very loud noise damages those teeny hairs so they become ineffective – permanently.
Over time you notice the accumulated hearing loss. Typical symptoms include:
- Ringing in the ears
- You keep asking people to speak up
- You can hear but cannot clearly understand what someone is saying to you
- More noticeable problems where there is background noise or you’re farther away from the speaker (for example, you can’t really follow your pastor’s sermon unless you sit in front)
- Your spouse (or your neighbor) keeps telling you to turn down the TV
- You’re getting crabbier and more impatient with others – or you’re actively avoiding social situations
This last point is critical. It’s not fair to blame others when you can’t hear clearly, and after a while you may find yourself being excluded from gatherings or ignored. Deliberately isolating yourself is even worse, but the end result is the same. Loneliness is a serious problem for many seniors, and hearing problems can be a major contributor – unnecessarily.
Listen Up! Hearing Aids Can Make a World of Difference
More than likely, you aren’t losing all your hearing, just your ability to hear certain types of sounds. For example, higher-pitched tones are harder to hear and understand clearly – that includes high voices as well as consonants in words, which don’t resonate as well as vowels. So, you may be able to understand your son, but your wife and daughter? I’m, sorry, what did you say?
Hearing aids are designed to fill in the blanks, by amplifying the specific range of pitches you can’t hear or process well on your own. You might even need two, because each ear is different. You have two individually-prescribed lenses in your glasses for the same reason.
You won’t know until you get your hearing checked by a professional. Hearing loss sneaks up on you, so you might be surprised at what you learn from your test. But one thing’s for sure, if there’s a problem, there’s a hearing aid for that thanks to today’s advanced technology.
Meantime, you can prevent further damage by:
- Turning down the volume. If you get that hearing aid you need, you’ll still be able to hear your music or TV just fine. And you won’t have to hear your wife or next-door neighbor complain.
- Putting some distance between yourself and loud noise. You can enjoy fireworks or concerts without sitting right up front.
- Investing in some noise-canceling headphones. That way, when the city’s repair crew starts jackhammering on the street outside or the visiting grandkids kick up a racket, you can enjoy your bliss in peace.
Senior health is our #1 priority. If you have questions about life at Magnolia Manor, please don't hesitate to contact us at 855-540-5433.