Staying Safe with Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is a condition which people associate with struggling to hear through conversation However, our hearing offers so much more than that. Sound is what tethers us to the world and informs us about our environment. We hear the sounds around us and all the while our brain is processing the direction and nature of all those sounds. If a sound approaches quickly from behind, we often take for granted the amount of processing our brain does to inform us of the direction and approximate approaching speed. With healthy hearing we are able to hear these sounds in time and react with enough time to move out of the way or react. However, for those with varying degrees of hearing loss, this becomes an issue of safety. This is why those with untreated hearing loss are far more likely to suffer accidents and falls which can lead to hospitalization—especially for an older population which is disproportionately affected by hearing loss. If you struggle with hearing loss here are a few tips to help you protect yourself and keep you and those around, you safe.
It’s standard to have smoke alarms installed in your home and any public space. Fires can spread very quickly, and these alarms can be our first warning to keep us safe and let us know it’s time to get out fast. However, the most common type of hearing loss affecting seniors and those with noise induced hearing loss is high frequency. Those high beeps of most fire alarms might not even be detected by those with this type of loss. To address this issue, it’s important to install fire alarms in your home with flashing lights. In addition, hearing aid users take their hearing out at night, making them less alert to sound and commotion in bed. If this is you, it is recommended to invest in a bed shaker to wake you along with your fire alarm or carbon monoxide detector.
A 2009 study published in Ear and Hearing found that smoke alarms which emitted low-frequency tones were far more affected for older adults with hearing loss while flashing light were effective only about 27 percent of the time. By far the most effective were bed or pillow shakers awaking 80 to 84 percent of participants during the night.
Protecting Your Home
If you live alone or feel you are getting up there in years, you are going to want to make sure that you feel safe when you are at home. In addition to carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms, you are going to want to have a reliable home security system in place. This can allow you to know if someone enters your home such as an intruder or bugler. However, home alarm systems bring with them some of the same challenges as smoke alarms, in most cases relying on high frequency alarm tones in order to alert. This will be an issue for most people with age related hearing loss, leaving them unaware if someone unexpected enters your home.
If you are finding this to be an issue, invest in a system which is designed for the hearing impaired. This again may come with strobe lights and bed shakers. However, sometimes the alarm isn’t just for you, but for the intruder to know that you are monitoring your house and that the authorities are on their way. Make sure to let the alarm company know that you are hearing impaired when you sign up for the service so they can make sure to offer you features to make the service work for you.
Take Advantage of Hearing Technology
The most single best investment you can make in your safety if you are hearing impaired is to address your hearing. The most common treatment is hearing aids which amplify the sounds you need to hear- including high frequency sounds- sending them down your ear canal so they can reach your brain. When you invest in a properly programed set of hearing aids you can be more aware of your environment and for whatever comes you way. To find out more, make the safe choice and schedule a hearing exam today.