If you find that you have to turn the television volume up louder these days, if people always seem to be muttering rather than talking clearly and if the noise of traffic or weather makes it hard to follow conversations outdoors, you could be suffering from hearing loss. There’s no need to panic – this is a common problem – but it’s worth talking to your doctor about it. There are many kinds of help you could get to work around the problem and reduce its impact on your life.
Why older people find it harder to hear
As we travel through life, some parts of our bodies get replaced and some don’t. The fine hairs that detect sound inside our ears are, sadly, among those that don’t. This means that as they gradually get worn out, we have less of them available to help us hear. Working or socializing in noisy environments can cause extra wear and tear and cause them to be lost more quickly. Sometimes other parts of the ears can also suffer damage over time.
How hearing loss can affect you
As hearing loss sets in, many people find themselves engaging in conversation less and less, sometimes without really knowing why – it just seems like hard work. This can be very isolating. It can also become difficult to do everyday things like talking to a sales clerk in a busy shop, ordering a meal in a restaurant or talking on the telephone.
Working around your hearing loss
Many people begin to lip read without even realizing they’re doing it. Watching people’s mouths and body language can make it much easier to figure out what they’re saying. There are specialists who can help you learn how to do this faster and more effectively.
A simple hearing aid can help with mild hearing loss by making sounds louder, though it can still be difficult to distinguish them. If your impairment is severe and you feel up to surgery, you could consider getting a cochlear implant to provide more intensive hearing support.
A number of devices are available to turn up the volume of things like telephones and alarm clocks in your home or provide subtitles on your television.
Research and new technology
New devices are always in development to make working around hearing loss easier. Smart hearing aids are now able to filter and clarify sounds. Mobile phone apps can translate speech into written words for you. There is even research aimed at finding a way to make those fine hairs in the ear grow back. Try the Miracle-Ear blog to stay updated and make sure you’re able to benefit from new technologies as soon as they become available.
Coping with hearing loss
No matter how well you cope on a practical level, facing up to hearing loss can be emotionally draining. It’s usually best to tell friends and family as soon as possible so they can provide support and start learning how to help. Changing habits is hard at first but you’ll all adapt over time, and you won’t always feel as if your hearing loss is dominating your life. With the right help, you can be yourself again.