Dual Sensory ImpairmentIn last month’s blog, the audiologists at Hearing Unlimited introduced the concept of dual sensory loss (DSL), the comorbid loss of both hearing and vision that can contribute to a deadly cycle of physical and cognitive decline in aging adults. We learned some alarming facts, including that DSL contributes to one of the most potentially fatal events that can happen to an older adult: a fall. 

While DSL is a serious matter that should be cause for concern, your first instinct doesn’t have to be fear. The audiology team at Hearing Unlimited wants to motivate our patients toward preventative measures for all forms of hearing loss, including DSL. Here are a few ways you can take control and protect your vision and hearing as you age:

Practice Sensory Safety

One of the most important elements of maintaining your hearing health (and your vision health, for that matter) is adhering to simple best practices in protecting your senses. This isn’t just important for aging adults to remember -- the sooner you start implementing these practices, the better. If you’re a musician or you often listen to music, be sure you’re doing so at a safe volume, both for your sake and the sake of those around you. If you know you’ll be exposed to loud noises at an event or as an occupational hazard, using earplugs is an important step for protecting your hearing, especially if the exposure occurs frequently over long periods of time. 

If you’re looking toward protecting your vision, the best steps you can take are those which protect you against the sun. Harmful UV rays can take a heavy toll on your eyes over time, so don’t leave the house without protective sunglasses. When buying sunglasses for this purpose, make sure they’re not just for looks, and that they actually work to block these UV rays. If you’ve already sustained damage to your hearing or vision, don’t give up on these best practices -- conserving your senses at any point is better than allowing for further degeneration.

Make Some Lifestyle Changes

Protecting your hearing and vision isn’t just about how you treat your eyes and ears. Different elements of your lifestyle can have an impact on other parts of your body, which in turn can have an impact on your senses. For example, periods of high stress have been shown to contribute to both hearing loss and vision loss, so managing stress as best you can is a great strategy for your overall health as well as the health of your senses. Smoking is also hazardous to your vision health, as smokers are 3-4 times more likely than non-smokers to develop macular degeneration and other types of vision loss -- if you’re an older adult and a lifelong smoker, now more than ever is the time to consider quitting for good.

Additionally, making some changes to your diet can be a step in the right direction toward maintaining your vision and hearing as you age. Foods like leafy greens, oranges, bananas, omega-3-rich fish (like tuna and salmon), and sweet potatoes can give you a boost in nutrients that will assist in keeping your eyes and ears working properly.

Don’t Miss Your Eye and Ear Exams 

The way you prioritize your own healthcare will always have an impact on your health itself, but this becomes especially true as you age and your risk of complications becomes greater and greater. This is not only true of your visits to the primary care provider, but also for specialized care from an ophthalmologist or audiologist. If you’ve never considered seeing one of these specialists before, now is the time -- while your primary care provider can offer you broad care, the experienced eye of a hearing specialist and vision specialist can help you catch degeneration early enough to stop it in its tracks. Regular eye exams and hearing tests are essential for preventing severe damage, and if you should need a hearing aid or corrective lens, these professionals can help ensure that you have the right product for your needs.

It’s a common misconception that getting older inevitably means that you will lose your vision, your hearing, or both. The truth is, neither hearing loss nor vision loss is a natural result of aging, and these preventative measures can ensure that you will see and hear your world with clarity for years and years to come. Don’t wait until you’ve already sustained damage to your hearing to make the audiologist part of your regular healthcare routine -- reach out and make your first appointment with Hearing Unlimited today!

If your current audiologist has made the difficult decision to close their doors, call Hearing Unlimited. Although we are closed to walk-ins, we are open for normal hours of operation, and we are following strict protocols to keep our environment safe while we continue to serve our patients.

The audiologists at Hearing Unlimited have the expertise to help you maintain your hearing health and prevent injury during this crucial time. Get your healthy hearing plan started today - contact us online or by phone to schedule an appointment, and be sure to take advantage of our services and resources.