Conversations sounding a little fuzzy lately? You're not alone: According to Harvard Health Publishing, it's estimated that approximately 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss. That means people of all ages require the use of hearing aids. How do you know if it's time for you to wear one?
It all starts with seeing your doctor, who could check to see if your hearing loss is simply caused by built-up ear wax. If that doesn't quite cut it, seek an appointment with a licensed audiologist who could offer a course of action—which may include suggesting you wear a hearing aid.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Audiology, 80% of adults between ages 55 and 74 who would benefit from wearing a hearing aid don't use one.
The stigma—and cost—is real! Yet taking a look at the benefits of having a hearing aid, outlined by AARP, may change your mind:
- Fall prevention. The more aware you are of your surroundings, the less likely you are to suffer a fall.
- Boosting your mood. The National Council on Aging found those with untreated hearing loss are more likely to battle depression and anxiety than those who use hearing aids.
- Increased brain power. Hearing aids can help improve brain function and working memory.
- Lowered dementia risk. Johns Hopkins and National Institute on Aging researchers have discovered ways in which hearing loss and dementia may be linked. Hearing aids help to combat these vulnerabilities.
- Stronger relationships. Communication is key! Having a hearing aid will decrease feelings of isolation and improve relationships with friends and family.
What's more, the arrival of more accessible over-the-counter options for hearing aids (thanks to new FDA regulations) have made it easier than ever before to make your hearing a priority.
Still hesitant? Take the National Hearing Test—an accurate, validated hearing screening test, developed with funding from the National Institutes of Health.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for West Michigan Woman.
The original version of this article originally appeared in West Michigan Woman.