an audiologist inspecting a patient's ear

By Julie Kailus
for Aging at Altitude

Originally published at:

Hearing loss affects a person’s entire well-being. Losing a major sense such as hearing is much more than a physical condition. As we age, it impacts serious social and emotional areas of life from relationships to self-confidence. To explore the risks, myths and management of hearing loss, we caught up with local experts from Family Hearing.

Sound is a habitat that often goes unnoticed until a person starts to lose access to it. Hearing orients us in space, and the sharpness of one’s hearing is linked with cognitive wellness. Most importantly, intact hearing connects us to people.

“When patients come to the office it is typically to improve their ability to understand loved ones, participate in group discussions or simply turn the television volume down,” says Chelsea Walters, board-certified hearing instrument specialist and owner of Lafayette-based Family Hearing. “Enhancing hearing not only makes a difference in our ability to connect to the sounds that matter most but can also impact balance, memory, decision making, anxiety, isolation and more.”


How to Manage Hearing Loss

The best way to manage hearing loss is to identify and treat it early. According to the industry publication Lancet Review, hearing loss is the largest modifiable risk factor in dementia prevention. Hearing, like vision and oral health should be monitored regularly to catch early indicators of decline.

“I recommend getting a baseline hearing evaluation in middle life,” says Doctor of Audiology Georgianna Hearne of Family Hearing. “This can help mitigate comorbidities common with untreated hearing loss like cognition changes, balance issues and isolation.”

Hearne explains that establishing a baseline early informs you about your hearing health status, prevents communication challenges before they happen and can align you with a professional you can rely on for advice and solutions now and in the future.

Another management strategy is considering how to prevent hearing loss in the first place. Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the leading causes of hearing loss and is entirely preventable. You can protect your hearing at any age by wearing hearing protection around any hazardous noise. Other proactive behaviors include eating a healthy diet and regular exercise. Similarly, because the hear t provides oxygen to the hearing system, cardiovascular health is critical in maintaining good hearing.


Rethink Timing and Expenses

A couple of critical factors often lead to a delay in hearing loss correction: how quickly the condition progresses and how much hearing aids cost.

First, it’s important to understand that hearing loss is typically a gradual process. A variety of symptoms tend to creep up slowly and therefore can be easy to dismiss. “This can often hold people back from recognizing or addressing their hearing loss promptly because the communication voids present as if the need is not great enough,” Hearne says.

But the opposite is true. “Even a mild hearing loss should be a call to action for treatment sooner rather than later.”

Second, hearing treatment is often delayed because of the perceived expense associated with hearing implements. But technology is putting this concern to rest. Today, there’s greater access and strategies for hearing care than ever before.

If finances are a concern, a trusted hearing center should be able to provide plenty of options. There are plans that take into account the investment for devices, the services used and event the warranties included with today’s high-quality connected devices. Hearne says not to let a financial roadblock stand in the way of hearing health: “There is a device and eservice plan to treat hearing loss for every lifestyle and budget today.”

Get answers, resources and solutions from a professional audiologist. Restoring hearing may be nothing short of life-changing.