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Offered by: John Wilson, B.S., BC-HIS – Blue Ribbon Hearing & Tinnitus Center

January is the time for New Year’s resolutions when people often begin the process of ending old habits and beginning new ones as a way to better themselves and their lives. These changes generally involve modifying diet, increasing physical activity, or altering monetary habits. Sometimes these resolutions are effective and lead to permanent change. Often, they are short lived and quickly forgotten. Typically, change is hard and doing new things is difficult. However, in the long run, positive healthy change is worth it.

One change that many people struggle with is treating hearing loss. Hearing loss is relatively invisible and in the short term usually only causes emotional and psychological pain, as opposed to physical pain, so it is often overlooked and treatment is pushed off. Because there is a cost to change, many find it difficult. Regardless of the cause of hearing loss, and why it has not been treated in the past, knowing that it can bring signifi cant improvements in life makes it easier to begin the process.

Research has shown wearing hearing aids decreases listening effort. Reduced listening effort decreases cognitive loading or “strain on the brain” and decreases stress. This was demonstrated beautifully when a new patient came in who had not used hearing aids before. After a consultation where we discussed the patient’s hearing loss and options, we programmed some hearing aids and put them on the patient. We continued our conversation and after a while a family member asked what the patient thought. The response was, “I don’t have to put any effort into hearing you now. It so much easier now that I don’t have to work so hard to figure out what you are saying.” Reduced listening effort leads to improved physical and mental health. In addition, studies have shown a reduction of blood pressure in family member’s and loved ones who no longer have to yell to be heard.

While some benefits are immediate, others are realized after an extended period of time. Untreated hearing loss is the leading treatable factor contributing to dementia. Treating hearing loss has the immediate effect of decreasing the rate of cognitive decline (brain shrinkage) and improves mental health. During a routine appointment for ear wax removal and hearing aid cleaning a patient told me, “Now I know I should have done something a long time ago. I wish I would have done something sooner.”

Hearing aids improve communication and can improve personal relationships and help maintain a healthy social life. Another patient expressed appreciation for the help I had given. He said, “You will never know how much of a difference you made in my life. It has changed significantly. My quality of life is so much better. My relationship with my wife and daughter is so much better. I am not missing out like I was.” He went on to say, “During Thanksgiving I watched my mom and brother who both have hearing loss as they missed out on conversations and stories. They were left out of almost everything even though they were in the same room. I wish they realized how much better life would be if they wore good hearing aids.”

If you or a loved one has untreated hearing loss, or the hearing devices you are wearing are not helping as much as you think they should, give us a call.

Blue Ribbon Hearing & Tinnitus Center