Community News
Do I Have Hearing Loss?

Unlike vision loss where people tend to promptly seek assistance by wearing glasses, hearing loss tends to be ignored, become rationalized by age or is blamed on others for not speaking clearly enough.

Hearing loss is common for many people throughout Canada. According to the Stats Canada Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS), 6% of adults over the age of 55 report limitations as a result of hearing loss and this number increases to nearly 36% of adults aged 75 and older. In total, this works out to roughly 966,000 Canadians who are willing to report awareness of hearing loss (and that’s not considering those who are possibly in denial).

Many people are simply unaware of the signs and symptoms of hearing loss, the benefits of early detection and intervention, and what resources are available. In order to reduce the likelihood of a hearing loss going undetected, being ignored, and left untreated, here is what you can watch for:

Is there a problem?: The most common signs of hearing loss are needing repetition, turning the volume up on the television, difficulty hearing on the telephone, difficulty hearing clearly, difficulty hearing in background noise, and failing to hear common household sounds like the doorbell. Schedule a hearing test: Annual hearing testing is recommended for adults over the age of 55, even if they do not suspect a hearing loss. Hearing test results are medical records and, as such, are kept on file for 7 years. These results can be used as a baseline to compare with any future hearing evaluations. The best thing is that hearing testing is complimentary and does not require a referral from your family doctor or ENT specialist. Investigate available resources: While hearing aids are often recommended to treat hearing loss, there are other helpful devices that you may not have considered. For example, amplified telephones boost the volume of incoming calls and can often be adjusted for tone and customized for your hearing loss. TV devices amplified alarm clocks and alerting systems for doorbells and smoke detectors are also available.

If you believe that your parents, grandparents, or friends are suffering from a hearing loss (see hearing loss and parents for more), the best thing you can do for them is to speak up and, if necessary, help them choose a hearing care provider to work with them on their individual needs. For more information on hearing loss and available resources, or to take a free online hearing test, visit www.mainlandhearing.com.

Contributed by Dr. Susan Marynewich, Au.D., RAUD, RHIP

Make Social Interaction a Priority

Maintaining relationships and spending time with others is essential to our emotional and mental well-being. It can help prevent depression which affects 20 percent of the population over 70 years of age. Socializing also keeps the mind active and improvements are greater when the person is involved in fun interests with other people. Plan regular get-togethers with friends, such as a weekly lunch date or coffee with another senior or loved one. Scheduling social interactions give us something to look forward to on a regular basis. For those who are truly adventurous you can enjoy new experiences and meet new people by signing up for travel tours, book clubs, and much more at your local community centre.

Keep Living Your Best Life

A good retirement residence is not just a convenient place to live, it’s an environment in which you can pursue your passions, thrive and continue living with purpose. It may be daunting to think about moving into a retirement home, but have you considered how your life might improve by making this change? Meet a new network of friends, build new relationships, and take part in activities you once enjoyed, or commit to learning something new! Leave the worrying behind when it comes to home maintenance, meal preparation and your own safety – and have us do it for you!

Aging Well Seniors’ Expo

“Friday, June 10th, 10 am – 3 pm at Cowichan Community Centre, FREE ADMISSION.
Volunteer Cowichan is hosting the 3rd Annual Aging Well Seniors’ Expo to connect, inform and empower older adults with a wide range of services, information and products to support them as they age. The expo will have health, financial, legal, medical and physical-care businesses, professionals, organizations, and more on-site. Table Talk presentations, door prizes and more! Sponsors H.W. Wallace Cremation & Burial Centre, BC CRN and Wellnessnews Choices for Health Living® invite older adults, elders, friends and family to attend this event. “

Sports Betting Support

Sports bettors, who tend to be young men, are the most vulnerable to problematic behavior, according to the NCPG’s National Survey on Gambling Attitudes and Gambling Experiences. The survey reveals that sports bettors are three times more likely to exhibit problem gambling behavior than other types of gamblers.” (Quoted from onlinepoker.com) Given the popularity of sports betting across North America, and Canada’s soon-to-be new law allowing single event sports betting (Canada.ca DoJ), vulnerable sports bettors may find themselves in a position to engage in more impulsive betting behaviour. Contact us for more info on how we can help!

Search for Meaning

Depression and anxiety are common experiences for many individuals. These conditions can create challenges that feel overwhelming and insurmountable at times. One way to approach this is through Existential approaches to counselling. In Victor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning, he writes how we can fill our lives with meaning by incorporating three main pillars: 1) the freedom to will – choosing your own path to follow; 2) the will to meaning – finding what is personally meaningful; and 3) the meaning to life – one’s personal meaning brought forward by the work or deed and their connection to others.

Senior Brain Health

It’s important for people of all ages to keep their brains healthy with regular workouts, but especially so for seniors. Here are five ways you can keep your mind sharp as you age: 1) Play a game. Try a sudoku, crossword, or jigsaw puzzle, or play a game of cards with friends. 2) Get moving. Regular exercise increases blood flow to your brain and increases neurons. 3) Listen to or play music. Science shows that music is a great brain booster. 4) Eat right. A diet rich in healthy fats is crucial for cognitive health. 5) Learn something new. Keep your mind engaged!

What are the risks of untreated hearing loss?

Hearing loss is quite common among a large portion of the population, but it isn’t rare for people with hearing loss to leave it untreated for long periods of time. What many don’t realize is that there are a concerning number of risks associated with untreated hearing loss.

It often takes 7 years on average before an individual seeks treatment which may be caused by frustration, believing it’s a sign of aging, difficulties finding a treatment plan, or simply their unawareness of the condition.

There is an overwhelming amount of evidence pointing towards the unintended risks of untreated hearing loss that can have significant consequences. Cognitive, psychological, and safety risks are often interlinked with many symptoms occurring at the same time that negatively affects a person’s quality of life.

Untreated hearing loss causing cognitive decline and mental fatigue

One risk of untreated hearing loss is a decline in cognitive health, as found in a study from John Hopkins University.

How does this happen?

The brain is responsible for identifying and transmitting the sounds we hear every day. When an individual has hearing loss, there is less sound traveling to the brain and therefore, the brain isn’t working as much as it typically would with normal hearing abilities.

If hearing loss is left untreated for a long period of time, the lack of stimulation causes the brain tissue to begin to deteriorate (also known as brain atrophy), the nerves can get rewired for different functions and it becomes harder for the brain to recognize sounds.

Think of it this way. If an individual’s hobby is running and they go for an hour-long run every day, then stop for months, their body begins to decline in muscle strength and stamina.

That is what can happen to the brain when hearing loss is left untreated. The lack of exercise can cause mental fatigue as the brain struggles to process sounds, as found in the John Hopkins University study.

The decline in emotional wellbeing and untreated hearing loss

Untreated hearing loss risks an individual’s cognitive abilities and brain health, but it also certainly can greatly impact their emotional well-being.

Many studies have shown that untreated hearing loss is linked to emotional and mental health conditions, often resulting in the following:

● Depression and fatigue

● Anxiety, tension, and stress

● Anger, frustration, and negativity

● Avoidance or isolation from social situations

● Social rejection and loneliness

● Lack of alertness and increased risk to personal safety

● Difficulty remembering things or learning new tasks

● Decreased job performance and progression

Often, individuals with hearing loss tend to withdraw from large group settings or loud sound environments because they struggle to hear and understand their peers, both personally and professionally.

This is a risk factor because increased withdrawal from social situations with friends or family can lead to depression and anxiety. It causes strains on relationships and can leave an individual with hearing loss feeling lonely and with low self-esteem.

Professionally, being involved in large work gatherings, meeting with clients, and interacting with customers while struggling with hearing can cause a lot of anxiety.

It can be stressful because of the importance of work discussions, the number of conversations occurring at once, and noisy sound environments, making it overwhelming and harder to hear.

Safety risks associated with untreated hearing loss

One of the most overlooked risks of untreated hearing loss is the lack of safety for an individual with difficulty hearing.

Individuals with hearing loss may miss warning signs of danger such as fire alarms, sirens, a door opening or shutting, glass breaking, or someone shouting at them. It puts those with untreated hearing loss at greater risk of injury.

In fact, hearing greatly contributes to a person’s balance because our ears pick up very subtle cues as we walk that help to keep us upright and balanced. For an individual with hearing loss, they can’t hear these essential signals which makes it much easier to have a dangerous fall.

Not to mention, their brain has to work much harder just to process sounds, causing increased multitasking in the subconscious that can interfere with the mental processing needed to walk safely.

The risk of falling is three times more likely and injuries are 50 percent more likely for individuals with hearing loss, according to John Hopkins Medicine studies.

Why you should treat your hearing loss

There is only one way to treat hearing loss and that is to use hearing aids. The pros massively outweigh the cons and with new technology that continues to advance, you’ll find that hearing aids aren’t what they used to be.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), invisible hearing aid models, rechargeable batteries, Bluetooth streaming, and audio control on a smartphone app is just the tip of the iceberg.

The risk of untreated hearing loss has the potential to greatly diminish an individual’s quality of life, but once treated, they can start to enjoy their day-to-day.

They can fully get immersed in conversations again, feel safer when at home by themselves, hear the sound of birds chirping or frogs croaking when going for a nature walk, and experience a world full of all the sounds they couldn’t hear before

Do you have an untreated hearing loss?

If you are living with an untreated hearing loss or suspect you have hearing loss, the passionate, dedicated, and experienced hearing professionals at NexGen Hearing are here to help you experience an improved quality of life and support you on your journey to better hearing.

NexGen Hearing provides free hearing tests, hearing aid consultations and sales, and much more at over 45 clinics in the BC Interior, Lower Mainland, and Vancouver Island.

To find a clinic near you and book an appointment, click here or call 1-877-606-6671.

Focus on What You Want

When someone heads towards their goals, versus trying to move away or reduce something, the outcome is more positively directed. By looking to something rewarding, success has a better chance of taking place. It also helps to focus on what you want to bring into being, as opposed to dwelling on what you don’t want anymore. A positive attitude is very powerful. When you have a positive attitude, negative thoughts are much less likely to come to mind. Positive thinking can help to control stress and also improve health.

Keep Gambling in Check

Have you heard of Canada’s Low-Risk Gambling Guidelines? They recommend keeping it under 1% of gross household income, four days/month or less and only two types of gambling. Also, consider the following which can increase your risk of developing a gambling problem: 1) If you struggle with mental health and addictions issues or have experienced gambling problems in your family, 2) If you are drawn to fast-paced games that involve frequent betting like slot machines, in-game sports betting, or many online forms of gambling, and/or 3) you’re playing for escapism or to make money. Check out GamblingGuidelines.ca #LRGG.

New Community Partnership

We are excited to announce a community partnership with Volunteer Cowichan (VC) in Cowichan Valley. Together, we will help residents find and link to local health and wellness resources, support and services. For 44+ years, VC has been a leader in community promoting, mobilizing and celebrating volunteers. They have many programs that support older adults and youth. You can find more about VC in this newsletter, on their website and on the WellnessHub Vancouver Island. While you are on the Hub, don’t forget to enter this month’s contest for a chance to win 2 x 10 Flex Pass tickets to the Nanaimo NigthOwls Baseball Club games.