Our bodies change throughout our lifetimes. From our metabolism to joint sensitivity to eyesight decline, we require a more maintenance as we age. But is there anything more aggravating than hearing loss? It’s like everyone around you is mumbling, and you endlessly have to ask friends to repeat themselves. Your spouse is probably on your case about the television levels, and cell phones are worthless since you can’t hear out of the thing.
Hearing loss affects everyone. It’s a natural part of the aging process, though it’s true some people are hit harder than others with this frustrating ailment. While we can’t control genetics, which can play a role, there are some things we can do to stall hearing loss.
- Practice Listening
The common first phase of hearing loss is the inability to hear high decibels. As loss progresses, the tones we can hear become lower and lower. Tinnitus, a constant ringing in the ear, is a regular indication of hearing loss. Noises like the doorbell, or the phone, or children’s voices become inaudible, as are certain soft syllables like s, t, k, p, f, th, which makes it sound like people are mumbling (they aren’t!).
One way to get past the mumbles is to practice listening. Play some music in a room, and then have a friend or spouse read to you. See if you can hear the sentences, and then repeat them back. In other words, you may have to relearn how you hear, but learning to pick out sounds and identify them will make it much easier to understand everyone around you.
You can practice whenever you leave the house. On walks, in shops, in restaurants, try to pick out the noises around you, identify them, and then see if you can locate where they’re coming from.
- Exercise Your Mind
Were you a big concert fan in your youth? Spend a lot of time around jackhammers? Damage from your younger days ails you today, and, unfortunately, it’s irreparable. But! The good news is you can strengthen your mind, which in turn helps your hearing.
Like all your other muscles, your brain needs to get a workout on a daily basis. As we age, our brains naturally atrophy, which can play a role in hearing loss. So giving your mind a run around the block every day can not only help you remain mentally sharp, but it can maintain your hearing, too.
It isn’t hard to work your brain – jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, word games, card games, and bingo are all fun ways to keep you in great mental shape. Doing it with friends is a nice way to incorporate a little social time, too.
- Get Your Blood Pumping
Hearing loss is sometimes found in biological changes, unrelated to noise exposure from youth. In this situation, nerve pathways are affected by health problems like thyroid issues, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Anxiety and depression are also linked to hearing loss. Some patients’ hearing are affected by medical treatments like chemotherapy and antibiotics.
You can control some of your biological functions, though. Physical exercise creates circulation throughout your body, including your brain. It’s important to get the blood moving, mentally, since it improves nerve function, which we know is at risk, and it removes toxins and waste that can cloud up the way we think, and therefore hear.
Exercise can be walking, jogging if you’re up to it, home and garden upkeep, and even yoga and meditation. Yoga is excellent for physical movement, and meditation is a calming practice that requires noticing the world around you, which is good for your hearing practice, but also wonderful for combating depression.
- Get Tested
While we all know someone who is hearing impaired, it’s hard to diagnose our own loss, since it’s progressive. So far, testing is not enforced, though the American-Speech-Language-Hearing-Association recommends everyone get a checkup once every ten years until they’re 50, and then every three years.
If you have hearing loss, your doctor can help with management, and prescribe hearing aids and devices – these days, there are hearing assist functions for television and phones, too. So you’ll be able to turn the volume down, and talk on the cell at last. You’ll even hear the thing ring!