Many wearers of hearing aids view them as communication devices. They are! Really great ones! Communication is often the primary function that we ask hearing aids to fill in our lives. But it is also thoughtful to note that your hearing aids are also brain activators, emergency alert notification tools, and connectivity devices!
Hearing aids activate your brain
Even when we are home and socially isolating from those geographically around us, it is important for us to keep our brain active and processing sound! In a study that tracked 639 adults for nearly 12 years, researchers at Johns Hopkins found that even a mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk and severe hearing losses were five times more likely to develop dementia when left untreated .
Access to incidental sounds even without direct communication is critical in keeping the brain activated and processing sound. As a matter of fact, in working with pediatric patients, incidental sounds and incidental learning are so critical to early development that we often turn off noise management features to give children access to as many sounds as possible . While you may not be using your hearing aids for direct person-to-person communication as much as you would have prior to the pandemic, hearing incidental sounds is important for your brain.
Hearing aids are a gateway for emergency alerts
For your safety and the safety of those around you, hearing alarms and sirens is easier when you are wearing your hearing aids. Further, remember all the “new” sounds heard when first receiving amplification? Many of my patients in the past have commented that they “never realized how loud the refrigerator was” or that a “belt in their car had been squeaking and needed repair.” Hearing all sounds — not just the ones we want to hear — is important to your health and safety.
Hearing aids are connectivity devices
Lastly, modern hearing aids help us stay socially connected to loved ones, friends and colleagues. Plus, their ability to connect to smartphones, tablets, and the television enable people with hearing impairment to stay up to date on news, information and more. If you have Bluetooth enabled hearing aids, you can easily place a Facetime call, call your neighbor, or engage in a Zoom video chat with your family. Streaming those sounds to your hearing aids and keeping in touch is simpler than ever before!
Being apart from our friends and loved ones during this time is difficult. But hearing the small incidental sounds around us can make us better hearers, safer, and more connected.