Add Improved Hearing To Your New Year’s Health Goals!

As we approach the beginning of 2023, most of us can’t help but reflect on the last year and imagine the changes we want to make going forward. A Swiss study estimated that about 70% of New Year’s Resolutions are health-oriented, with about 48% more specifically focused on exercising more regularly. While we can’t make you exercise more, we can humbly suggest that a good way to focus on your health would be to improve your hearing in the new year!

Most People Who Need Hearing Aids Are Not Wearing Them

Age-related hearing loss—or “presbycusis”—is the most common type of hearing loss. About one-third of those aged 65–74 have hearing loss that requires hearing aids, and the fraction jumps to about half for those aged 75 and up.

Despite how common hearing loss is in Americans above retirement age, it is sorely undertreated. On average, people wait seven years from the time they notice hearing loss to the time they do something about it and schedule a hearing test. And only one out of five people who need hearing aids are currently wearing them. That’s a huge amount of untreated hearing loss!

Hearing Aids Can Help You Exercise More!

That’s right! The National Institute on Aging and John Hopkins University published a study in 2021 that found that those with hearing loss got less exercise than those with normal hearing. What’s more, they found that those with hearing loss walked slower, and had poorer balance and less physical function.

When hearing loss becomes a part of our life, we feel less comfortable moving around, even in our own homes. One of the issues that untreated hearing loss can bring with it is increased anxiety, and that’s in part because we’re aware that things are happening that we can’t hear. Hearing is one of our primary senses, meaning it is a key part of how we understand the world around us. When we can’t hear, we can’t understand the world as clearly, and we become less-inclined to move around in it.

On average, those with hearing loss spend 34 more sedentary minutes per day than those with normal hearing. The greater the severity of hearing loss, the more time tends to be spent not moving.

Often when we think of “exercise,” we imagine we have to be on a treadmill at the gym, or “pumping iron.” In reality, any kind of movement that makes us use our muscles is exercise. We might be spending time gardening, mowing the lawn, or walking around our neighborhood. It could even be as simple as doing the laundry! The more we move our bodies, for any reason, the better it is for us, and hearing aids help us feel more comfortable moving around.

Schedule a Hearing Test

If you’re thinking of a New Year’s Resolution that involves exercising more, think about scheduling a hearing test! Hearing tests are not only for those who think they need hearing aids. Anyone, of any age, can benefit from a hearing test.

The Better Hearing Institute and The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) both recommend getting a hearing test at least once a decade up to the age of 50, and once every three years after that. Those in higher-risk professions or with a medical history indicating a higher risk of hearing loss should be tested even more regularly, as often as once a year.

That’s because hearing tests aren’t just about getting a set of hearing aids. Hearing tests can detect even the tiniest degree of hearing loss. Based on your hearing test results, your hearing care professional can even give you some educated guesses as to why you have hearing loss. While hearing loss doesn’t mean you need hearing aids until it reaches the “mild” degree (about -25 dBHL of hearing loss), knowing that you have some minor hearing loss can help you make some changes that could prevent more hearing loss going forward.

Maybe you’re a musician or a motorcycle enthusiast. Maybe you even wear earplugs when you engage in these activities. If your hearing test reveals noise-induced hearing loss, you’ll know that your earplugs are not doing a good enough job, and you need to wear earplugs with a higher NRR (noise reduction rating).

Whether you want to engage more safely in the activities you love, or get more exercise in the new year, a hearing test is a great way to get yourself off on the right foot! This year, make better hearing a priority and schedule a hearing test today!