As the holidays approach, social gatherings, entertainment, and time with family becomes far more prominent. “This time of year is about connecting with what helps you embrace and celebrate the holidays, but it’s difficult to do that with a hearing impairment or other communication issues,” says our audiologist. “And it’s not just the person with the hearing impairment who is affected by the loss, it’s their loved ones and friends, too.”
Here are six tips to help you (or someone with a hearing impairment) hear happier this holiday season.
1. Work out your ears — and your brain.
Research shows that musicians are better able to pick out voices amid background noise than people who don’t play music, but it is possible for anyone to learn these processes. Part of this is because of “brain fitness,” the idea that listening to music can help sharpen hearing. “The listener’s natural inclination is to pay attention to fluctuations of notes, which improves some aspects of hearing and helps to differentiate certain vocal tones from other sounds,” says our audiologist. Just be careful with earbuds, and listen to music at an acceptable level.
2. Dine strategically.
Don’t let fear of hearing loss disrupt your social skills; loss of consistent communication with others affects hearing, but remaining social sharpens those skills. “Don’t be afraid to remind family that you have difficulty hearing,” our audiologist says. “Try sitting at the end of a table so there aren’t multiple conversations that are difficult to follow. If possible, dining in a smaller group would also help a listener focus in on a conversation.”
3. Have your hearing aids serviced.
Make an appointment to get your hearing equipment checked and cleaned prior to gatherings. Often, small adjustments or software installations can make a difference in how you hear, our audiologist says.
4. Pack your accessories.
If there’s no time to schedule a cleaning prior to your holiday gathering, packing extra batteries, a cleaning kit for your aids, or even an extra set of hearing aids is a great idea just to stay prepared.
5. Protect Your Hearing Aids.
Just like your ears, your hearing technology is vulnerable to winter elements, including wind, precipitation, and cold weather. Wearing a hat, scarf, or earmuffs helps protect your devices — including the batteries — from the elements. Removing the batteries at night and leaving the battery door open also helps cut down on potential moisture and maintain battery life.
6. Consider investing in new technology.
If you were fit for your hearing aid a few years ago, there may be a much more advanced option available now, our audiologist says. “Even a base model today may offer significant improvements in acoustics and features over higher-end models from a few years ago. These advances can make a huge difference in peoples’ lives without putting pressure on their wallets.”
Happy Hearing for the Whole Family
Are you and your family winter ready? Colder temperatures not only mean the holidays are here, they mean new challenges for your ears and your hearing aids. Here are our quick tips to help keep your ears and hearing technology in tip-top shape this season.
1. Watch Out for Noise
Heading out for a hunting trip, a hockey game, or a riveting time shoveling the driveway? Don’t forget your hearing protection. More than 31 million Americans ages 6 to 69 have hearing loss related to noise, one of the most preventable causes. Earplugs, headphones, or earmuffs help deaden loud sounds that can be harmful to your hearing.
2. Stay Warm and Dry
Keeping chilly air and water off your ears is more than just a comfort issue. Overexposure to severe cold, wind, or moisture could cause problems such as exostosis, an abnormal bone growth in the ear canal that can lead to blockage, infections, and hearing loss. Take cover with a hat and scarf or earmuffs in especially cold conditions, and consider customized earplugs if your activities involve water.
3. Beware of Ear Infections
With cold and flu season — as well as the customary cooler temps — comes the increased risk of ear infection for children and adults. Reducing the risk of flu or colds helps curb the chance of getting an ear infection. The flu vaccine and hand washing can go a long way toward prevention, but be sure to seek medical attention if you experience an ear infection.
4. The 60/60 Rule
There are other ways to reduce the effects of loud music on your hearing. Don’t believe the myth that some genres of music are more damaging than others. What really matters is the decibel level and the length of time you’re exposed to it. With your headphones on, try the 60/60 rule — listening to your device at 60% volume for 60 minutes at a time.