Having difficulty hearing certainly presents challenges. Some, like trouble communicating, are noticeable. Other effects can creep up slowly, ultimately putting mental health at risk.
If you’re beginning to notice your hearing is not what it used to be, visiting a doctor is highly recommended. The sooner it’s recognized and assessed, the less damaging to your life it can be.
People often ignore initial hearing problems, allowing them to worsen to the point of near debilitation.
Older adults with hearing loss are at greater risk of developing dementia than those with normal hearing. They also experience concentration and memory decline at a faster rate while being more susceptible to social isolation, depression, and missing out on essential information.
Many have a hard time talking about hearing loss or alerting health professionals, or even family and friends. Part of that has to do with frustration or embarrassment, while others may not realize it, chalking it up to aging or blaming it on others.
So, what does hearing loss look, or sound, like? Here a few queues to let you know how you’re doing. Hearing is likely impaired if:
- You have trouble hearing over the telephone
- It is difficult to follow conversations when two or more people are talking
- You often ask/require people to repeat themselves
- You need to turn up the volume on your television/radio/tablet to the point where others complain/request you turn it down
- You can’t follow the conversation over background noise
- It sounds like others are always mumbling
- You have a particularly hard time hearing women and children (higher-pitched voices/sounds)
Coping with hearing loss can be another challenge. The only way to really do so is to accept it, alert others, and take steps to treat it. Treatment for hearing loss typically includes options like hearing aids and other devices to increase the ease of communication.
Some tips to help cope with hearing loss include:
- Telling others – doctors, family members, and friends
- Asking people to speak more clearly and slowly
- Noting lip movements, facial expressions, and other physical gestures
- Telling people you can’t understand what they are saying
- Meeting/talking in places where you know it will be easier to hear (staying out of spaces with lots of background noise)
Recognizing and getting a jump on treating hearing loss can help protect your ears from further challenges. The long-term effects could be better memory, better mood, and a higher quality of life.