Navigating Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids

This episode of the Sage Aging podcast is all about navigating hearing loss and finding solutions for a better quality of life.

Hearing loss affects people of all ages, but is more prevalent in older adults.

Understanding the Spectrum of Hearing Loss

Dr. LaLonde shed light on various types of hearing loss, including tinnitus, a condition often manifested as a ringing in the ears. It’s something I have lived with for some time, though I never recognized it as a hearing loss. I was thrilled to hear there are treatment options! 

She pointed out that, though most people don’t pay much attention to their hearing health, “The American Physicians Association recommends annual hearing tests. For everyone, especially once you’re over the age of 65, every year.”

“The American Physicians Association recommends annual hearing tests. For everyone, especially once you’re over the age of 65, every year.”

Tonya LaLonde, Au.D.

The Effects of Hearing Loss on Social and Cognitive Health

One of the most impactful takeaways from our conversation about navigating hearing loss was how it is related to social engagement and cognitive health. Dr. LaLonde emphasized the close connection between our auditory health and brain function. She said “Hearing is a huge part of your brain’s work… when we have a deficit in the hearing, it very quickly reveals itself as a deficit in your cognitive ability.” That makes complete sense, doesn’t it?

We’ve all been in social situations where communication is difficult because of loud noises. Many social events take place in social settings with poor acoustics. That, coupled with all the background noise, can make it nearly impossible for someone with hearing loss to engage. This highlights the importance of addressing hearing issues. Not just for the sake of our ears but for our overall well-being.

Seeking Help: The Importance of Timely Action

Dr. LaLonde advises establishing a hearing health baseline before the age of 50 and recommends regular check-ups thereafter. If you notice changes in your hearing, don’t wait to consult a professional. She advises, “Go to an audiologist. Get a full medical evaluation, and then go from there.”

Choosing the Right Hearing Aids and Devices

When it comes to hearing aids, the choices are many. Consult with a professional to find the best one for you.

With today’s hearing technology, we have lots of choices, from basic over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids to highly advanced, tailor-made devices. The market is stacked with options. But while having options is great, it can make it difficult to figure out which option is best for you.

Dr. LaLonde advises that we should be diligent, especially when it comes to OTC hearing aids. While these devices offer convenience and are easy to access, they might not be the best fit for everyone, particularly for those with severe hearing loss. “It’s essential to understand that not all hearing aids are created equal,” Dr. LaLonde explains. “An OTC hearing aid might seem like an easy fix, but it could fall short in addressing the unique complexities of your hearing needs.”

The key lies in the technology and customization. Advanced hearing devices, tailored to the patient after a thorough evaluation by a professional, can cater to the specific frequencies and types of hearing loss. That’s not to say OTC hearing aids are never a good idea. It’s just best to make that choice with a hearing professional.

Embracing Proactive Hearing Health Care

This conversation was all about navigating hearing loss, and Dr. LaLonde’s parting advice was clear and powerful: “Be proactive with your health. Don’t wait for things to happen.” That sounds to me like good advice worth listening to 😉

My conversation with Dr. LaLonde was not just informative but also a reminder of the integral role hearing plays in our lives. It’s about more than just the ability to hear; it’s about staying connected, engaged, and mentally active. So be proactive, get your hearing checked, and enjoy being able to fully participate in the rich tapestry of life’s conversations.

Additional Resources

Disclaimer: The content on this site is meant for general informational purposes and should not be considered professional advice. While we strive for accuracy, we recommend consulting experts for specific guidance. We are not responsible for any decisions made based on this information.

Liz Craven
Liz Craven

Liz Craven, co-publisher of Sage Aging ElderCare Guide alongside her husband Wes, brings a blend of personal experience and heartfelt dedication to her work. Their path in eldercare started with a family story — caring for Wes' grandmother, Mabel, who faced Alzheimer's. This personal chapter not only highlighted the complexities of eldercare but also ignited their passion to support others in similar situations. Later, Liz and Wes filled the caregiver role three more times for their parents. Through the Sage Aging ElderCare Guide, Liz offers a mix of empathetic insight and practical advice, making eldercare more approachable and less daunting for families. Her commitment shines through in every piece of advice, aiming to ease the journey for others as they navigate the world of eldercare.

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