Hearing loss is challenging to experience, but it doesn’t have to hold you back from living your life to the fullest.
My husband and I are among the 35% of boomers that have some degree of hearing loss, and another 62% of boomers are at risk of hearing loss (according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders).
Many of us can get by in our day-to-day lives with minimal interruption. However, with the pandemic, it has become more challenging with social distancing and mask-wearing—I can no longer read lips, and many of our voices are distorted when talking through a mask.
Over the years, I’ve found technologies that help me live an active life like participating in our theater performance group, as well as keeping my husband and me safe from potential household dangers. Many of these solutions are incredibly simple to use.
Let me share ways technology has helped me adapt to hearing loss, as well as my tips for thriving regardless of your ability to hear.
5 Technologies to Help with Hearing Loss in Your Home and Everyday Life
You will likely notice the effects of hearing loss in subtle ways at first. It can be harder to follow conversations. You may need to turn the TV volume higher than usual. Or the sound of your doorbell is merely a faint murmur if you’re toward the back of your home.
These challenges will only get worse if you do not seek help. Luckily, there are plenty of ways that technology can address the essential home and life needs that typically rely on sound.
Specifically, here are a few technologies I recommend you explore if hearing loss is becoming more apparent:
- Flashing Light Doorbells: I’ve adapted my home with devices that flash lights in place of a doorbell ring. I have devices throughout my house so I can always know if someone is at my door. There are plenty of options from SquareGlow, NuTone, and Safeguard Supply, just for starters.
- Bed Shakers for Smoke Detectors: Everyone needs to be immediately alerted if there is a potential fire in their home. I sleep safe knowing my bed will vigorously shake if my smoke detector goes off. You can get a bed shaker from brands like SafeAwake, VibroSaver, or CentralAlert. I also have flashing light smoke detectors, like for my doorbells, that alert me when I am awake and anywhere in my house.
- Hearing Aid Telecoils/T-Coils: You may have heard of telecoils or t-coils, which come equipped in some hearing aid devices. These t-coils can connect your hearing aid with your telephone, television, or other devices that you use. When looking for hearing aids, I recommend you ask your audiologist to program the telecoil in your hearing aids.
- Bluetooth Hearing Aids: A lot of audiologists today encourage consumers to get Bluetooth-enabled hearing aid devices. I recommend, and use, a combination of both Bluetooth and t-coils. Bluetooth is great because it is a more “modern” technology and can easily connect with your smartphone. I use my Bluetooth to listen to music from my phone directly in my ear without disturbing anyone around me.
- Smartphone Applications: You likely already have one of the best tools to battle hearing loss: your smartphone. There are so many apps on phones that can help you. A few that I use every day are:
- ClearCaptions call captioning service: This has been a huge game-changer for me, and one not many people realize is available. I use ClearCaptions free mobile app when I make a call on my iPhone so that I get a near real-time transcription of the phone conversation. The captions are easy to read and help me see what the caller is saying. They also have specially designed home phones which captions the words your caller says on an easy-to-use touchscreen display.
- Otter: When I’m meeting with people in person, I use the Otter application. It provides a voice-to-text translation of what the other person is saying, so I just hold my phone near them and read the screen as they talk. This is especially helpful when someone is wearing a mask.
My Advice for Adapting to Hearing Loss
Those are just a few technologies that help me live a more fulfilling life, regardless of my hearing loss. But technology is just one way that I remain independent.
If you are concerned about the potential effects of hearing loss, or if you suspect you are experiencing issues with your hearing, here is some advice that I live by:
- Get your hearing tested every year. This is the best way to catch any early signs that your hearing is deteriorating.
- Don’t wait to get hearing aids if you’ve been told they could benefit you. Many people feel embarrassed that they have to use hearing aids, but this is just part of aging. Many baby boomers wear hearing aids that are barely noticeable and without them you will unnecessarily miss out on so much from life.
- Reprogram your hearing devices. It’s common for people to get hearing aids, enter a noisy room, and immediately take their hearing aids off because of all the competing noises. Go back to your audiologist to help reprogram your hearing aids and teach you how to adjust the settings to best match whatever situation you’re in.
- Connect with other people who have hearing loss. The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) has local chapters across the US. My HLAA Houston chapter has about 30 people at each meeting. We share stories and ideas, recommend new tools or technologies, and have grown to be a close-knit community.
By equipping my home with the right technology and keeping up with my audiologist visits, I’m confident that I can enjoy all that life has to offer, no matter how my hearing may change in the future.
About the Author
Teri has lived with hearing loss since childhood and has never let it - or anything else - get in her way. She worked for over 30 years as a high school teacher and then a state-contracted Hearing Loss Resource Specialist. She is dedicated to helping her community and connecting others to resources available to live their best lives, every day.