Why Hearing Health Matters for Your Overall Well-Being

Not being able to hear well makes it difficult to understand and talk to colleagues, friends, and family members. But, did you know that untreated hearing loss can impact other aspects of your life?

According to Shannon Basham, Au.D., Phonak Senior Director of Audiology and Education, hearing is a social sense, and hearing loss can have a fundamental impact on communicating with others and connecting to them. However, hearing is also an emotional sense, and hearing loss can change how we enjoy social gatherings, theatre, music and how we perceive emotions.

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While hearing loss and communication challenges can impact the core dimensions of well-being, growing evidence shows that hearing rehabilitation can provide benefits in the same three domains.

Plus, hearing loss can affect the ability to monitor changes in the acoustical environment, potentially impacting a sense of safety or security. “In other words, hearing loss can have an impact on our overall well-being,” she added.

Hearing well and healthy aging

So what does healthy aging look like? If the question was asked to several people, there would probably be several different answers. “Sure, there would be similarities, but each person would have a unique set of ideals for what he/she hopes for ‘aging,’” said Basham. “It could even be argued that we should abandon the term ‘aging’ all together and just get on with saying healthy ‘living.’ After all, that is what we are striving to do.”

A big part of healthy living is staying active: socially active, physically active and mentally active. Healthy hearing has proven links to having success in these dimensions of life as well.

3 steps toward Well-Hearing is Well-Being

Basham said healthy hearing is basically a three-pronged approach; each is very important.

  1. Healthy hearing starts with hearing loss prevention. It is important that you understand and seek the tools and resources to sufficiently protect your hearing when you are in noisy environments. “Hearing loss should not be seen as a benign inevitability of the aging process, but something that we should strive to avoid and guard against as best we can,” she said.
  2. You should have routine hearing screenings aimed at hearing loss detection. Now, more than ever, hearing screenings are more and more accessible. “You can get your hearing checked through various hearing healthcare providers. You can even take online screenings, in the comfort of your own home,” added Basham.
  3. Once identified with a hearing loss, it is imperative that you act quickly to develop a treatment plan with your hearing care provider. “In today’s fast-paced society, there is a broad range of options offering a holistic ecosystem of hearing solutions, assistive listening devices, services and educational resources that empower people to be active and thrive mentally, socially and emotionally,” said Basham.

Partner with your hearing care provider

Open and honest dialogue with your hearing care provider will always yield the best results of Well-Hearing is Well-Being. “During the appointment, there will likely be time to sit and discuss your particular communication needs and situations,” said Basham. “Let your needs be known.”

Hearing loss is also referred to as a third-party disability, as it affects more than just you. It can affect family members and friends in your social settings. Usually, you will be encouraged to bring someone along with you to help get a full picture of communication and lifestyle needs.

Setting goals is one of the most important pieces of your consultation. So much discovery can occur during the goal-setting session. “Don’t be afraid to provide insights into your motivations and actually spell out which aspects of your well-being apart from communication needs that are being taxed by hearing loss,” added Basham.

Connecting hearing aids to Well-Hearing is Well-Being

There is no question that hearing aid technology — like Phonak Paradise™ — has come a long way, and today’s hearing aids are nothing short of amazing. “The connectivity, usability, and sound quality are simply astounding,” said Basham. “But with regard to general health, hearing aids have been clinically proven to improve postural stability, increase environmental awareness and allow listeners to monitor changes in the acoustical environment, leading to more positive physical well-being.”

As for social-emotional well-being, Basham added that research supports that the use of hearing aids to treat hearing loss results in more engaged social participation, improved peer relationships and less loneliness as compared to those with untreated hearing loss.

“And of course, one of the most compelling findings related to well-hearing is well-being is that the Lancet Commission on Dementia concluded that hearing loss is the No. 1 modifiable risk factor,” she said.

Equip yourself for different listening situations

According to Basham, having the right hearing solution means that you are well-equipped to deal with different listening situations and can participate in a physically active and healthy lifestyle. For example, features found in Phonak Paradise hearing aids can provide such solutions:

  • Motion Sensor Hearing uses an accelerometer to detect when you are moving and can give you more environmental awareness in noise.
  • Tap Control is an intuitive and easy way to control everyday functions on a Bluetooth®-enabled device including streaming and phone calls and access to a virtual assistant.

Focus on your overall well-being

Because Paradise devices are designed with purposeful innovation, there are several features that will allow you to be more focused on overall well-being. “If you are interested in improving cognitive well-being, Paradise offers features, such as Adaptive Phonak Digital 2.0, Speech Enhancer and AutoSense OS™ 4.0, which will adapt to suit the needs of dynamic environments and make listening much less difficult — freeing up some of the cognitive space for other tasks,” said Basham.

Dynamic Noise Cancellation, Binaural VoiceStream Technology and Roger™ technology are wonderful for focusing on social-emotional well-being. “Features like these will allow you to more readily engage in challenging social situations, like restaurants, large group conversations or even small group gatherings,” she added.

At Phonak, we believe that hearing well equates to well-being, and it is essential to living life to its fullest. Click here to learn more.