Living with hearing loss can be quite an adjustment for you and your family. Sometimes it can even be dangerous.
What if you can’t hear a fire alarm or someone calling your name? Car noises can signal hazards ahead, but if you have untreated hearing loss, you won’t hear them.
Don’t stress yourself out over the “what if’s.” If you have untreated hearing loss, getting a hearing exam is the first thing you need to do.
For those with hearing aids, we have ten tips to help you and your family stay safe, even when you’re not likely to be wearing your hearing aids.
1. Get customized alarms for people with hearing loss
When you think of an alarm, you likely think of that blaring sound coming from a clock on your bed stand, but alarms today are more advanced than that. You can now buy models that have flashing lights similar to the strobes you see in commercial buildings, in addition to making noise. Whether you’re in the market for a smoke detector or a carbon monoxide alarm, be sure that you get a device that works for those with hearing loss.
Would you hear someone knocking on the door? If you don’t lock your door, would you be shocked to find that a close friend just walked right in?
Not being able to hear can mean being surprised by visitors or even missing them. However, motion detectors with flashing lights can be installed to alert you to someone at a door or window.
If you have a smartphone, you can also get an app that alerts you when someone is at the door by vibrating your phone.
2. Bring other people with you when you go out
If possible, bring someone with you who is not struggling to hear. If that’s not possible, request that people face you when talking to you so they are easier to hear.
3. Avoid distractions while driving
Because you can rely less on your hearing, it’s important to minimize other distractions behind the wheel. Don’t use your phone or GPS while driving, just pull over if you need to change your route. If you suspect you have an issue with your hearing aid, see your hearing care specialist before getting behind the wheel.
Don’t feel ashamed if you need to turn off the radio or ask passengers to stop talking during more critical moments of your drive. Safety first!
4. Consider a service animal
You think of service animals as helpful for those with visual impairment, epilepsy, or other disorders. But they can also be very helpful to those with auditory challenges. A service dog can be trained to alert you to danger. They can inform you when someone is at your door.
Not only can they help with these problems, but they also make a great companion.
5. Have a plan
Know what you’ll do before an emergency strikes. Discuss it with others. If you plan to move into the basement during a tornado, make sure your family knows where they’ll find you. In case of a fire, plan a designated location that you’ll be outside the house.
This way, if something were to go wrong and you became trapped, family and emergency personnel can act quickly to assist you.
6. Adjust yourself to visual cues when driving
Your hearing loss has likely gotten worse over time. If your hearing aids aren’t regularly adjusted, you might find yourself relying more on your eyes. Be alert to flashing lights on the road since you may not hear sirens. When children or pedestrians are around, stay extra vigilant.
7. Get to know your neighbors
In many neighborhoods today, sadly, many people don’t know their neighbors. This lack of connection adds risk to both the hearing and the hearing impaired alike. Find opportunities to get to know the people in the homes around yours. Keep each other informed of suspicious activities you may need to be on the lookout for. You never know when you may need their help!
8. Share your limitations with friends and family
No one wants to admit that they have hearing loss, but those close to you need to know. They can alert you to something you may not hear so that you can go to safety. If they don’t know that you can’t hear, they will assume that you hear it too.
9. Keep your car well-maintained
As a person living with hearing loss, you may not be able to hear strange thumps, clicks, or screeches when you drive. These can signal a serious problem. If ignored, they can do long-term damage to your car or put you in danger. It’s a good idea to ask a trusted mechanic for his opinion on the condition of your vehicle when you take it in for an oil change or inspection.
10. Treat your hearing loss
This is the most critical thing you can do to stay safe. Get your hearing checked annually to determine when your hearing loss is significant enough to require an assistive device. Don’t delay because of time constraints, money, or pride. A hearing aid can help you stay safer in many settings at home, work, park, shopping, and driving.
Hearing aids today are very functional, affordable, and discreet.