Time to Make your New Year’s Hearing Resolutions for 2018
Whether you’re an experienced hearing aid user or someone who’s never stepped foot in an audiologist’s office, here are some concrete steps you can take to improve your (and your loved one’s) hearing health in 2018.
Get your hearing tested
If you’ve been waiting to get your hearing tested, now is the time. You may already know you should. If family, friends, or coworkers have been trying to encourage you, listen to them! Take the leap. You’ll be glad you did and you’ll never look back. Note: The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) recommends that you “…get your hearing checked at least once every 10 years up to the age of 50. Then, you should have your hearing screened every 3 years.”
Make an appointment to see your audiologist
Already wear hearing aids or cochlear implants? Have your device(s) cleaned and tested. It will give you the best hearing possible and start your new year off right. Check to see that warranties are still in force before the new year – that can save you money. Ask about the latest tools, toys, and gear for your home, office, and car and what’s ahead in hearing tech that may be of great help to you. Lastly, consider replacing your hearing aids if they are not currently meeting your hearing needs.
Vow to get one friend or family member into a hearing aid in 2018
You know who needs one. In fact, you may know several. Here’s your chance to do something important … not just for them, but for those they love, commune and work with. It will also make our world ever more connected when another person is able to communicate effectively again. Provide the appropriate nudges and education.
Hold a “HearingWare” Party
Remember TupperWare parties? Friends would hold them at their home to demonstrate (and sell) the new plastic containers that no one should be without. Get a group together at your home and introduce them to the latest news about hearing technology. Invite an audiologist to speak and show off some of the latest in “HearingWare” and provide lots of information that guests can take home. It’s a wonderful and informal way to bring more of those we care about into the hearing loop. Oh, and be sure to have lots of treats.
Work with an Auditory Trainer
Resolve to improve your residual hearing in the new year. This is a new concept for many but the idea is to work with an “auditory trainer.” You’ll discover focused listening exercises that can improve your speech comprehension and communication skills (and from personal experience, your music listening enjoyment as well). It will make a world of difference. Ask your ENT or audiologist where to find a trainer, or google “auditory trainers” in your area. Oh, and check out some of the online auditory training programs that really work.
Step out from your isolation in whatever form it takes
Have you stopped seeing friends, going out for dinner, or attending meetings or events? Times are changing rapidly for those of us with hearing loss, and avoiding our favorite activities is unnecessary. Our “situational hearing” can be improved with modern hearing technology, which is now more easily accessible, and may be available for use at many local venues (check out these close-captioning glasses at Regal Cinemas). Hearing aids, smartphone apps, and assistive listening devices can be used anywhere, and can enhance your hearing most anywhere you take them.
Hearing loops, a technology that can wirelessly transmit sound to hearing devices, are installed in many venues, like offices, auditoriums, public buildings, transportation centers, and other meeting places. Restaurants and other public places are starting to employ noise-buffering technologies to make going out for dinner quieter and more pleasurable. Captioned screens are starting to show up everywhere. There is little need to fear the places you used to love. Along with that, resolve to…
The urge to say “be more demanding” is strong. Hearing loss is out of the closet and it’s OK to start asking for what you need in the way of hearing assistance and accommodations. It starts with the willingness to ask friends and family to work on their interpersonal communication – then step it up and speak to people in charge at work and in shops, malls, public buildings, churches, restaurants, etc. Many of these places are becoming more aware of the needs of the hearing challenged, and often just need a nudge to offer assistance. The technology is out there and the more you ask for it, the more accommodating society will become for those of us with hearing loss.
Join a hearing loss support group
What could be easier and more comforting and fun than stepping into a room where “everybody knows your game.” No embarrassment, no discomfort, no explanations. Just step right up and say “hi.” Here are your “peeps,” your hearing loss colleagues who know the ropes and will share their experiences with you. You’ll discover information that you can’t get elsewhere and camaraderie you may never have thought possible.
There are hearing loss support groups everywhere and you just have to look. Go to the Hearing Loss Association of America website and find a state chapter. Google “hearing loss support groups” in your area. Use Facebook and Twitter to say hello out there and let people know that you are looking for connections. Attend regular meetings, social and cultural events, and simply build new friendships that will open up your life.
Take that trip you’ve been holding off on because of your hearing loss. Do your research and look for places in the world where you’ll find assistance and accommodations for your hearing loss. Plan a journey with a hearing loss vacation group or check with your travel agent and online to find accommodating travel destinations, hotels, resorts, tours and much more.
Do your homework
To repeat, things change fast in our world. And right now, hearing loss is HOT! So, it’s important to keep up and do your homework. Catch up on the latest research on subjects like hearing loss and the brain, new future-forward technologies, hearing rehabilitation, auditory training and job success, over the counter hearing aids, and what the new FDA rules may mean for all of us. There are frequent breakthroughs and discoveries that provide encouragement and positive reinforcement to our everyday efforts to cope, manage, and move beyond our hearing losses. Try to keep up.
Keep music in your life
This is a “no brainer.” Or rather, a very important “yes brainer.” Listening, playing, and singing music each day are activities that are good for brain health and much more. If you let music go with your hearing loss, find it again. Your brain will thank you and with it, your heart and soul too.
Be grateful for your hearing health at whatever level it is
Thank your hearing provider for their services and staff. Be thankful for the companies, researchers, and specialists who are making life easier and better for all of us. And remember, those who are speaking and writing about hearing loss in ways that are breaking down barriers, adding to our knowledge about hearing loss, and getting us all back “in the hearing loop.”
Stu Nunnery is a writer, speaker, recording artist and hearing activist. He has recently returned to making music after a 35-year hiatus and presents workshops and performances about his journey with bilateral hearing loss.
Last modified: December 26, 2017