We don’t often think of our hearing in the same way that we think about our other health issues. We get wellness physicals, have our blood pressure checked, blood drawn, perhaps an x-ray or two. Unfortunately we don’t always put our hearing into the same category, and often, tucked it away as not being important. We need to change our thinking. Good hearing plays an important role in our overall health and well-being. Those suffering from hearing loss should develop a hearing health plan for the coming year.

Start with the basics. When was the last time you had a hearing exam? My audiologist recommends annual exams. He tells me it is the best way to assess a decline in hearing ability. People don’t always recognize subtle changes in their hearing. The annual exam provides a chance for my audiologist to assess my word recognition scores and my ability to hear in noise. While in his office, I can talk about problems with the functionality of my aids or other peripheral hearing devices. Our time together gives my audiologist a chance to tell me about any manufacturer updates for my aids.

Going to my annual exam gives me the opportunity to ask about new technology. I try to keep up with what is available, but I find my audiologist to be a good and reliable source of what technology is worth spending money on. For instance, I noticed that the company I purchased my hearing aids from came out with a new hearing aid product, and I asked my audiologist about upgrading my aids. He said that though the new aids would help me, he did not think they would increase my hearing capabilities enough to warrant giving up my current aids especially since they are still under warrantee. He assured me that waiting a year or two was my best option since hearing aid manufacturers are constantly researching and bringing forth new technology. The same holds true for implants, he added.

At my annual appointment, we also discuss how to improve my hearing concentration, how to hear better in noise, and how to cope with hearing loss. I feel coping is the biggest issue that those suffering from hearing loss face. In reality, you’ve lost part of or all of one of your most important senses. Having a hearing loss colors your ability to conduct business, to socialize, and to entertain yourself. The inability to hear normally is unnerving, and at times frustrating. And while we all do our best to use technology, it isn’t the same as natural hearing. Having good coping skills is the best way to make peace with hearing loss.

As we meander through the hearing world, think about your hearing as you would think about your diet or high cholesterol or other health issues. Get a hearing checkup, search the internet for hearing solutions, talk to others suffering from hearing loss for advice and above all, visit your hearing professional. You just might find that you’ll have better hearing in 2020.


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Linda Bilodeau

I’ve grappled with hearing loss since 1978. Through it all, I’ve faced periods of denial, acceptance, curiosity, trust and hope. But more often than not, I’ve felt annoyed, angry and frightened. I’ve encountered despair, loneliness and envy. I’ve experienced panic attacks. I’ve met understanding people, kind souls who helped me a great deal and others who thought I had nothing short of an invisible plague. As a way of coming to terms with my hearing loss, I’ve decided to put my feelings about my disability down on paper. My hope is to better understand myself and perhaps you’ll find a little something in my meanderings that will help you, too.

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