How Hearing Aids Can Change Your Life

How Hearing Aids Can Change Your Life

Robert Weissman, Au.D., B.C.A., CCC-AUncategorized

Robert Weissman, Au.D., B.C.A., CCC-A

Many of us entering our 60s or 70s are probably feeling a lot younger than our parents’ generation did. By and large, we’re more active and have enjoyed a more balanced diet in recent decades. Still, with over 48 million Americans of all ages experiencing some type of hearing loss, many of us are loath to pursue hearing aids to correct the problem. 

On average, people wait seven years from the time they notice problematic hearing loss to the time they finally get hearing aids. This is an unfortunate situation that prevents many people from leading a better life in the here and now.

Fatigue and Hearing Loss

Anyone who has dealt with hearing loss for some time can tell you just how exhausting it is. When we can’t hear properly, the part of our brain that normally handles the incoming sounds from our ears, focuses on speech, and commits that speech to short term memory can’t function correctly. We are left to try to put bits and pieces of sound together into coherent sentences using visual and context clues. This process uses a different part of the brain, normally reserved for higher-order thinking.

The upshot is that our brain is overworked, trying to figure out what is being said while we still try to participate in a conversation. This overworking makes us tired much sooner than we would be otherwise. Unfortunately, many people who are new to hearing loss mistake this exhaustion for a separate age-related condition, and it might even contribute to the decision to avoid hearing aids. We might say, “What’s the point of getting hearing aids when I’m too tired to talk to people anyways?” The fact is, getting hearing aids will alleviate the problem!

Socializing and Hearing Loss

Over time, as hearing loss becomes more and more of a problem, study after study shows that people tend to withdraw from social activities. This tends to lead to social isolation and, eventually, depression. If the problem continues, it can even lead to early onset of cognitive decline and dementia.

Those who get hearing aids tend to stay much more active socially, which also leads to a lot of incidental physical exercise. They also report greater satisfaction with their relationships with others, be they intimate partners, extended family or friends.

Memory Loss and Hearing Aids

Remember above, how we said the part of the brain that interprets speech also commits it to short term memory? Well, unsurprisingly, people with untreated hearing loss tend to report more memory problems than those who have hearing aids. It may be that creating a more circuitous route to the short term memory makes it more difficult for information to get there, causing more noticeable forgetfulness.

Optimism and Hearing Aids

Multiple studies have confirmed a long-held suspicion amongst those in the hearing healthcare professions: Hearing aids improve quality of life and, in turn, mental health. Hearing aid users tend to get better sleep than those with untreated hearing loss, tend to hold themselves in higher esteem, and even report being more optimistic about the world in general. After one year of wearing them, over 91% of hearing aid wearers report being satisfied with them.

Major Technological Advancements

Many of us may remember and disparage the hearing aids of the past: giant, whistling, beige appliances that hung out of our elders’ ears as they shouted, “What?! What?!”

Today’s hearing aids, like most of the technology around us, have come a long way. Powerful, tiny computers now control DSP (digital signal processing) that enables hearing aids to not only amplify incoming sound; but to suppress feedback (the “whistling” sound), show preference to speech over background noise, improve sound localization in the environment, integrate with other devices via Bluetooth and other technologies, and so much more.

In many cases of mild to moderate hearing loss, some of today’s hearing aids can actually improve the intelligibility of speech in noisy environments to better than normal.

If you’ve been struggling with hearing loss and you’re putting off hearing aids, don’t put them off any longer! Make an appointment for a hearing test today to see how hearing aids can improve your life, not to mention prevent a cascade of related negative health outcomes. There’s never been a better time to wear hearing aids!