Let’s be honest. It is tempting to ignore your hearing loss. You rationalize the times you don’t hear things, thinking, “If only he would stop mumbling,” or “This restaurant was just too loud.” Those things may be true, but so, too, is your difficulty hearing.
Hearing loss often comes on gradually, making it hard to detect as it is happening. Once treated, people are often amazed at the sounds that they have been missing — birds chirping, water running in the faucet, the refrigerator humming — many of which they have not heard for years.
Did you ever wonder how custom hearing aids are manufactured? I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it until a recent trip to Phonak’s US headquarters. It was a wonderful visit. I was able to discuss the patient’s perspective with the company’s leadership and audiologists and learn about the work they are doing to improve hearing aid technology.
One of the highlights was touring the company’s 93,000 square foot hearing aid manufacturing facility in Aurora, Illinois. Opened in 2013, the facility employs more than 500 people in varying shifts that allow it to operate 24/7. Here, the company’s custom hearing aids are constructed. The process is a combination of art and science, just like living with hearing loss.
Katherine Bouton’s latest book, Smart Hearing — Strategies, Skills and Resources for Living Better with Hearing Loss, is just that — an excellent guide to living a better life with hearing loss. Using personal anecdotes and containing extensive research on assistive listening devices, the book provides a road map for people at all stages of their hearing loss journey. If you think you may have hearing loss, or know you do, this book is required reading.
Every year at my annual medical check-up, the doctor checks my height and weight, listens to my heart and takes my blood pressure. She scans my skin for any moles that might have changed, looks at my eyes, my ears and down my throat. She orders blood work, and sometimes even other tests, but never, not once, has she tested my hearing or even asked me about it.
The same goes for my children at their annual check-up. Here the doctor does all of the above, plus a vision screening. But only upon request, will they do a cursory hearing test. Given my genetics, I request one for both of my children. Every year.
The lack of focus on hearing as an important part of one’s health is misguided and needs to change. Hearing loss is associated with many health problems, including depression, heart disease, diabetes, an increased likelihood of falls and even a higher risk of dementia. Identifying and treating hearing loss early could be a big help in lowering these risks, improving the quality of life for people with hearing loss, and reducing overall health care costs for us all.
Click here to continue reading on Hearing Tracker.
Your mother is always there for you. She loves you, before herself. She is your caregiver, confidant, and friend. She is always willing to lend an ear to your daily triumphs and concerns. But what if she can no longer hear you because of a hearing loss? How can you help her through this challenge so that you can both continue to enjoy your special relationship for many years to come? Here are my suggestions. Please share yours in the comments.