The start of the year is a good time to take stock and set goals for the next 12 months. This can apply to any aspect of your life—and of course to your hearing loss. It’s time to set your hearing loss goals for the year.
Maybe you have been ignoring your hearing loss, preferring to live in denial because you “get by” most of the time. This could be the year you take action. Or maybe you wore your hearing aids less than you should have during quarantine? This could be the year to rebuild your brain/hearing aid connection. Have you lived up to your hearing loss advocacy goals? Should you set new ones?
Possible Hearing Loss Goals
Here are some ideas. Pick the ones that seem right for you.
1. Get an updated hearing test
Whether its your first hearing test or your 100th, an accurate assessment of your current hearing loss is important. I like to get my hearing tested annually so I can catch changes sooner rather than later.
2. Wear your hearing devices
Even when at home and alone. Sure, it is okay to take a break from the cacophony of sound every once in a while, but because we hear with our brains, consistent use will help your devices work better.
3. Meet other people with hearing loss
My hearing loss friends provide support in the low moments and have taught me many of the tips and tricks I use today to live well with my hearing loss. Hearing Loss Association of America operates many chapters across the United States. Or search out a hearing loss group on Facebook. Mine is here.
Telling others about your hearing loss can be difficult if you are battling stigma, but it is the first step to good communication. People will not know to speak louder or clearer or whatever else you need unless you ask them to do so.
5. Advocate for your needs
Don’t just tell people you have hearing loss, give them specific suggestion about how they can help you communicate well. This will vary for each person (to some degree) so be as specific as possible. And remind people when they forget.
6. Shift your attitudes about your hearing loss
For many of us hearing loss can feel like a burden, holding us back from enjoying activities and conversation. But when you we adopt a more can-do approach, obstacles become something we can learn to climb over or move around. In Hear & Beyond, Gael Hannan and I devote an entire section to this idea of MindShifts.
7. Experiment with new technologies
The only constant in technology is change—and that can be good news for people with hearing loss. Commit to trying at least one new technology this year to add to your bag of hearing loss tricks. I find speech-to-text apps incredibly helpful while others may prefer mini-mics or other blue-tooth enabled devices. OTC devices might be worth exploring if your hearing loss is mild to moderate.
8. Manage tinnitus with meditation
Not everyone with hearing loss experiences tinnitus, but many of us do. Mine flares up seasonally, but I have learned to manage it (most of the time) with meditation. Give it a try. There are worst ways to spend ten minutes a day.
9. Be prepared
Check your battery stash and replenish it as necessary. Test chargers to make sure they work and consider bringing your devices in for a good cleaning. Proper maintenance will help your hearing aids work better and last longer.
10. Forgive yourself when communication is tough
Hearing loss makes communication more challenging. It just does. Forgive yourself (and your communication partners) when things don’t go well, but don’t use it as an excuse to give up. Good communication is worth the extra effort.
Readers, which one will you try first?