Avoiding a hearing test could lead to more health issues as you age, and also be a risk to the lives of others.
For those of us in our 50s, it is tempting to think that we’re still young, especially if on the whole we are reasonably fit and healthy. It’s hardly surprising that we’d think this way. We’re surrounded by media forever reminding us that age is only a number and that 50 is the new 40.
Tempting as it is to buy into the fast-food, high-tech, buy now and pay later lifestyle, it’s important to remember that we’re living in bodies that are aging despite our best intentions.
Most people in this age group, if not suffering from one reasonably serious ailment or another, are generally at the mercy of what doctors often term regular “wear and tear”. The body as a machine is unfortunately not everlasting nor is it unbreakable. Like other machines, it needs regular maintenance and a certain amount of looking after.
You might have noticed that healthcare, and even the role of the medical profession, has changed a great deal since you were young. Doctors used to be very hands-on, showing their concern though regular health checkups and screenings as a direct result of early medical intervention. Sadly, those days are gone for many health practices. Family doctors often no longer have continuity of care where they see people not only at times of ill health, but also in-between.
These days, you’re lucky if you get to see a doctor or nurse when you need them. All too often the one you see is different each time you visit. This can make things difficult as well as impersonal.
We are now living in the age of body-awareness. It is up to each one of us to become aware of how our own bodies are feeling. If in doubt, we’re to get checked out by a professional. This is greatly encouraged by medical professionals, as their own resources are often stretched to the limit. This means that we need to take the initiative not just with colds, coughs, sniffles and pains, but also with anything else that can affect us.
Hearing is something we assume takes care of itself. However, this is not the case.
Consider that deafness is far more common than any hearing person will ever believe. Around one in six people in the UK experience one form or another of hearing loss. A great many of these are in the over 50 age bracket. In fact, age-related hearing loss affects approximately two-thirds of adults older than 70 years and four-fifths of adults older than 85, according to ScienceDaily.
That means there’s a strong probability that if you’re older than 50, you might just have a hearing problem – especially if hints have been dropped by those nearest and dearest.
“…deafness is far more common than any hearing person will ever believe.”
When it comes to getting your hearing tested, it honestly isn’t worth ignoring it and hoping it will just go away. It’s tempting to think that the only person it affects is you. It’s easy to ask yourself what harm there can be in just carrying on regardless. The problem with this way of thinking is that ignoring hearing loss can not only be harmful to your own well being, but it can also be dangerous to yourself and those around you.
When we think about hearing loss, we often think of having to turn up the sound on the TV and asking people to repeat themselves. This can all seem a bit too trivial to bother ourselves about. The reality of hearing loss is quite different. Imagine falling into a deep sleep and failing to hear your alarm clock. This could be difficult if it was a work day. Now imagine being in a deep sleep and failing to hear a smoke alarm.
When our hearing becomes less effective than it once was, we need to compensate for its failings. We can’t ignore them. When you cross a street, you look both ways and are mindful of traffic. You also make use of your hearing. Part of being able to judge the speed and proximity of a car traveling toward you is by listening to the sound of it. This is difficult to judge if your hearing is off.
I could list a huge litany of possible hazards made all the more worse by having undiagnosed hearing loss, even if you know inside that you have a problem. Another issue with hearing loss is its connection to dementia. When it remains unchecked and untreated, there can be a drain on the mental processes, which takes on the strain.
A study published last year by the Harvard Medical Journal confirmed a probable link between dementia and hearing loss. While it isn’t known how dementia and hearing loss are connected, there appears to be a definite connection. It might be through a shared neural pathway.
Read more: Are hearing loss and dementia linked?
The danger posed to mental health for those suffering from undiagnosed hearing loss is a growing concern for many in the mental health system. Cognitive decline, depression and social isolation have been cited many times over the past few years. This particular set of hazards to our ongoing health should be of paramount importance to anyone wishing to live a long and relatively healthy life.
As you struggle to hear the sounds around you, it’s often easier to just withdraw and walk away. It’s easier to stay home nights when others are out enjoying themselves. Before you know it, you’re making excuses and kidding yourself that you’d much rather stay home and relax instead of socializing as you used to.
The longer we put things off, the harder it can be to to face them. The same can be true with hearing loss and the obvious remedy.
In the past, attempting to get diagnosed with hearing loss was perhaps a harder wall to climb, or at least felt like it. Not so today. There are so many available ways to take a simple first-step hearing test. It really is just an excuse if you fail to do this. Your first step doesn’t have to be a medical one. You can either take a hearing test at a pharmacy or even at one of the many opticians who now also offer hearing services. Alternatively, you can easily take a free online test, which not only tests your hearing, but also gives you advice on the next steps to take if you have a problem.
It really is that simple to not only safeguard your future, but also that of those close to you. Ignorance of possible danger can never be a sensible approach. Hearing aids can not only offer a way back the hearing community, but they can bring your social circle back into focus too.
So, the question is, what are you waiting for? Stay safe and get yourself checked out with a hearing test. I know that I’m glad I did.