The start of the year is always a good time to take stock and set goals for the next 12 months. This can apply to any aspect of your life — and of course to your hearing loss. Maybe you have been ignoring your hearing loss, preferring to live in denial because you “get by” most of the time. 2022 could be the year you choose to act. Or maybe you wore your hearing aids less than you should have during quarantine? This could be the year to rebuild your brain/hearing aid connection. Have you lived up to your hearing loss advocacy goals? Should you set new ones?
Here are some ideas. Pick and choose the ones that seem right for you.
2022 Hearing Loss Resolutions
1. Get an updated hearing test. Whether it’s your first hearing test or your 100th, an accurate assessment of your current hearing loss is important. I like to get my hearing tested annually so I can catch changes sooner rather than later.
2. Wear your hearing devices. Even when at home and alone. Sure, it is okay to take a break from the cacophony of sound occasionally, but because we hear with our brains, consistent use will help your devices work better.
3. Meet other people with hearing loss. My hearing loss friends provide support in the low moments and have taught me many of the tips and tricks I use today to live well with my hearing loss. Hearing Loss Association of America operates many chapters across the United States. Or search out a hearing loss group on Facebook. Mine is here.
4. Self-identify! Telling others about your hearing loss can be difficult if you are battling stigma, but it is the first step to good communication. People will not know to speak louder or clearer or whatever else you need unless you ask them to do so.
5. Advocate for your needs. Don’t just tell people you have hearing loss, give them specific suggestions about how they can help you communicate well. This will vary for each person (to some degree) so be as detailed as possible. And remind people when they forget.
6. Embrace a can-do attitude about your hearing loss. For many of us hearing loss can feel like a burden, holding us back from enjoying activities and conversation. But when we adopt a more can-do attitude, obstacles become just that, something we can learn to climb over or move around. In Hear & Beyond, my upcoming book co-authored with the fabulous Gael Hannan, we devote an entire section to this idea.
7. Experiment with new technologies. The only constant in technology is change — and that is good news for people with hearing loss. Commit to trying a new technology this year to add to your bag of hearing loss tricks. I find speech-to-text apps incredibly helpful while others may prefer mini-mics or other blue-tooth enabled devices.
8. Manage tinnitus with meditation. Not everyone with hearing loss experiences tinnitus, but many of us do. Mine flares up seasonally, but I have learned to manage it (most of the time) with meditation. Give it a try. Many meditation apps are available for free or just sit silently for ten minutes and count your breaths. It will be time well spent.
9. Perform annual maintenance. Check your battery stash and replenish it as necessary. Test out chargers to make sure they work well and consider bringing your devices in for a good cleaning. Proper maintenance will help your hearing aids work better and last longer.
10. Forgive yourself when communication is tough. Hearing loss makes communication more challenging. It just does. Forgive yourself (and your communication partners) when things don’t go well, but don’t use it as an excuse to give up. Good communication is worth the extra effort.
Which one will you try first?
Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of We Hear You, an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss, (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues. Connect with Shari: Blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter.