Why are you wearing hearing aids? It’s probably to hear better, right? Well, yeah, for most people that’s going to be the answer. A hearing aid is designed to aid your hearing.
But here’s the funny thing. When we ask real people that question (and you can try this at your next bridge game or poker night), we get responses such as, “I get to hear my grandkids giggle,” or “I can go grocery shopping and understand the cashier” or “I get to keep my independence.”
In other words, there are all kinds of benefits–underappreciated benefits–that come with wearing your hearing aids. And those less acknowledged boons might be the difference between wearing your hearing aids on a daily basis or keeping them tucked away in a drawer somewhere. Certainly, these five under-appreciated benefits of hearing aids have earned their time in the spotlight.
Benefit #1: Clearer Sound
So it’s not just that your hearing aid makes things louder. They make the sound clearer. That’s because your hearing doesn’t wane evenly: certain frequencies are the first to go. So a hearing aid can make the sounds around you crisper and easier to understand.
Additionally, modern hearing aids have all kinds of settings that can be adjusted (or that can adjust themselves) based on the room you’re in, the ambient volume of that room, and so on. Hearing aids don’t just make everything louder–they focus on improving the right sounds so that you hear more clearly overall.
Benefit #2: A More Active Social Life
If the sounds around you are easier to understand, you’re more likely to engage in social activity–and that’s a huge boost. Think about it this way: when you can’t follow the conversation at a crowded (and noisy) restaurant, you’re less likely to jump in with a joke. But when your hearing aids are doing the heavy lifting for your ears and all the voices are nice and crisp, you’ll know that exact moment to jump in with your hilarious repartee.
When you can hear crisply, clearly, and don’t have to ask anyone to repeat themselves, social interaction becomes less of a chore; instead, socializing goes back to being something you can enjoy again.
Benefit #3: Improved Concentration
When you’re struggling to hear, a large part of your brain is devoted to one task: making sense of the mess. You have to divert so much brain power towards interpreting garbled or incomplete audio information that your overall concentration takes a dip. So when your hearing aids are working properly, you can find yourself concentrating with far greater ease, whether you’re planning your budget, reading a book, or doing a little sudoku.
Benefit #4: You’re Safer
Research shows that people with untreated hearing loss have an increased risk of falling. There are two ways that hearing aids can help with fall protection. The first is by preventing falls in the first place. When you’re able to concentrate better (and, thus, you’re less mentally exhausted), it’s easier to move your feet around without tripping on something. Second, many hearing aids have automated technology that activates when the wearer experiences a fall. This technology can be easily configured to contact friends, family, or emergency services in the event of a fall.
Benefit #5: Hearing Aids Improve Cognition
It’s not just your concentration that improves when you wear your hearing aids. Your mental health improves, too. When you have a hard time hearing and start to isolate yourself, the pathways in your brain responsible for interpreting sounds can start to atrophy (more or less–it’s a complicated process that we’re simplifying for the sake of time). A hearing aid can help preserve various mental cognitive processes–meaning your mental health, your mood, your self-esteem might all benefit from using your hearing aids.
Why Not Get Benefits Sooner Rather Than Later?
So if you’ve noticed that your hearing has begun to decline (or if you’ve been seeing a hearing specialist, and your hearing specialist has noticed that your hearing has begun to decline), there’s not much to gain from taking a slow approach. Hearing aids can provide both immediate and lasting benefits.