As we enter month seven of our worlds being turned upside down many of us are starting to feel some level of acceptance in a “new temporary normal”. For some people, COVID19 has led to a rollercoaster of experiences and emotions, making us second think every decision we would have made without thinking beforehand. For others, their world hasn’t changed much outside of the addition of wearing a mask and being aware of social distancing. And some have fallen somewhere in the middle. All we know is that we can expect that things will likely not go back to the way they were for a while. As an audiologist, I’ve heard many different comments regarding the addition of mask wearing and social distancing. These requirements have had a great effect on community members. Many people are realizing they utilized lip reading more than they ever knew and are now experiencing greater difficulty hearing than ever before. Others have known their hearing hasn’t been all that good for a while but feel defeated with the idea of investing in hearing aids because they do not go anywhere right now. The good news is this is all temporary. But there have been many great revelations from this experience. We can likely all agree that we will not take for granted our relationships with loved ones, our abilities to communicate effectively, and to go where we want, when we want. Life is short. Communication and our ability to hear has proven to be even more special during these times, because for some of us, it’s our only form of connection. That’s why it’s important to not only take care of your hearing but to treat your hearing loss. Treated hearing loss can help ease the extra strain of hearing due to mask wearing. We all utilize lip reading, whether we have hearing loss or not. Those with hearing loss experience even greater difficulty hearing in some of the most important situations. Even if you’re social distancing and spending most of your time at home either alone or with a loved one, treating your hearing loss is extremely important. Our brains need stimulation, it’s healthy! There are sounds in our daily environment that we often do not even realize we “hear”. With hearing loss and social isolation, we’re at greater risk for developing dementia without that stimulation. The Lancet Commission recently came out with new evidence that untreated hearing loss in midlife is the largest modifiable risk factor in preventing dementia. So do not let COVID19 take away any more from you than you might feel it already has and take care of yourself in all ways, including your hearing.
Original Paper: Livingston G, Huntley J, Sommerlad A. Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. The Lancet. July 30, 2020. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30367-6.