Did you know that one-third of Americans over the age of 65 and 50% of people over the age of 75 experience some degree of hearing loss?
Hearing loss is a common condition in the United States, especially among older Americans – but with proper care and treatment, it does not hinder one’s active lifestyle. Most hearing specialists recommend an annual hearing test, as you would take an annual eye exam or have a physical with your doctor. Annual hearing tests are encouraged, as they monitor your hearing abilities. We’ll be able to identify if there have been changes in your hearing – which means we’ll be able to catch and treat hearing loss early.
Treating hearing loss with the use of hearing aids comes with many benefits – from improving the quality of your interpersonal relationships to ensuring your safety. Personal safety is often compromised with hearing loss, as a diminished sense of hearing could put you in harm’s way.
This is especially apparent when it comes to driving, when all of your senses must be alert in order to keep you connected to your environment. Here are a few driving tips for older Americans with hearing loss.
Get Your Hearing Checked
Your hearing keeps you safe in many ways – from connecting you to the world around you to improving your balance.
Your sense of hearing is an invisible one, which means you may not immediately notice if there are changes. Many people spend an average of seven years living with untreated hearing loss – before they decide to seek treatment. If you’ve noticed that people are mumbling, or that you’ve been turning the volume up frequently on the TV or radio, you may be experiencing a hearing loss.
Here at Greentree Audiology, we provided comprehensive hearing tests and hearing aid fittings with a certified audiologist. Our hearing tests are simple and painless – and quick! If you take a hearing test annually, then we’ll be able to keep an eye on your hearing abilities and recommend treatment as soon as a hearing loss is detected.
That being said, while you’re driving with hearing loss, it is important to eliminate any sounds that may be distracting. Turn down the volume on your car speakers, and try to limit the conversations you have.
Get Your Eyesight Checked
Vision is obviously one of the most important elements of driving. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, it is important to get your eyes checked every year. Your optometrist will also be able to identify if other problems, such as cataracts, arise.
The use of polarized sunglasses or antireflective lenses could be very useful if you are driving in the daytime. If you have poor vision, you may want to limit your driving during the evening. While driving, adjust your car seat so that you can see comfortably at least 10 feet in front of you on the road.
Check Your Medications
If you are taking medication for different medical conditions, be sure to check the side effects. In some cases, medications could make you drowsy or light-headed, which would interfere with your ability to drive safely.
Additionally, some medications could affect your vision or hearing. If you’ve noticed changes in these senses, talk to your physician.
Pay Attention to Your Reaction Times
As we get older, our reaction time and attention span may change. As you drive, pay attention to your reaction times; avoid slamming on the brakes and leave space between you and the vehicle in front of you.
Sometimes, traffic can be overwhelming. If you’re driving in familiar areas, try to avoid certain routes that are high in traffic and find quieter roads. Be sure to scan the road regularly so that you can anticipate any adjustments you need to make.
Make Adjustments for Your Physical Comfort
If you’re driving long distances, consider that stiffness could make driving uncomfortable. Adjust your seats and mirrors accordingly to accommodate any physical challenges that may arise. You may also replace mirrors in your car with larger ones. Talk to your car dealership about power steering and equipment to help with braking and operating your car’s pedals. These could help make your driving experience more comfortable.
Visit Us at Greentree Audiology
There are many devices and accessories available to make your hearing experience easier as you drive. Visit us at Greentree Audiology for your annual hearing exam and contact us if you need to make adjustments to your hearing aids. We’re here to help!