Summer is officially in full swing and with it, wedding season. If you have a wedding date set, chances are it’s coming up in the next several months. That also means that you are busy planning the perfect I do event! You may have venue, flowers and food on your list, but have you considered how to make it a more hearing-accessible event?
With more and more family and friends affected by hearing loss, these tips can help you make it a day that everyone can hear and remember.
Why a hearing-accessible wedding is a smart move
With a lengthy list of to-do’s for your I do’s, you may wonder why it’s important to add more to your list. The fact is, millions of Americans report some difficulty hearing. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that approximately 15% of American adults (37.5 million) aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing, and one in eight people in the United States (13 percent, or 30 million) aged 12 years or older has hearing loss in both ears. That means that chances are you will have several people at your wedding with hearing loss. These family and friends may have difficulty hearing vows, toasts and all the special moments that make up your big day.
A little extra preparation and some simple steps can go a long way in making those with hearing loss feel included and comfortable at your wedding and reception.
Tips for a more hearing loss friendly event
Wherever you are in your planning process, there are ways you can create a more comfortable environment for guests with hearing loss. Here are some of our top tips.
- Talk to your guests. Whether you’re posting an update on your wedding website or picking up the phone to call those family and friends you know have hearing loss, don’t shy away from asking what guests need to best hear during the ceremony and reception.
- Find the right venue. If you haven’t already chosen a venue, be sure to ask questions about accommodations. Does the site offer a loop system or other hearing assistive technology? Are microphones available? Do the acoustics minimize background noise? Is the lighting adequate for lip reading? Many venues now offer several options to help those with hearing loss enjoy any event.
- Plan the ceremony. Thoughtful touches during the ceremony require little extra time but go a long way for guests with hearing loss. If possible, seat guests with hearing loss closer to the front to help cut out background noise for them so they can better understand the ceremony. Offering printed programs with key text like your vows can also help prevent confusion and frustration for family and friends who may have difficulty hearing.
- Don’t forget the reception details. Like the ceremony, make sure that hearing assistive technology is available for guests to use. Whether that’s a loop that is accessible by hearing aid or microphones to help make all the festivities easier to understand. Try to seat guests with hearing loss with other family and friends they know. In some cases, people are reluctant and self-conscious to share that they have difficulty hearing with people they don’t know. Finally, make decorations conducive to conversation. Sure, those three-foot-tall centerpieces look stunning in the magazine, but they may prevent your guests from chatting during the reception, especially those with hearing loss.
If you have a wedding around the corner, show all of your guests how important they are to your story by planning with hearing loss in mind.
If you have questions about hearing loss and how to identify, manage and treat it, call our office.
It’s not unusual for many of us to regularly schedule a check-up with our doctor or dentist to manage our health. We’ve probably been going to see them for as long as we can remember to stay on top of any changes and get treatment as needed. But, when was the last time we scheduled a hearing evaluation.
Unfortunately, for many of us, the last hearing test we had was when we were kids in school. It’s time to change that! Professional hearing evaluations are a critical piece of the total wellness puzzle. If you need a little motivation to call your hearing healthcare provider and set up an appointment, here are ten reasons to get a hearing evaluation:
- Get a good baseline. Just like other areas of your health, it’s important to have a baseline of information to track. Scheduling a hearing evaluation annually, can help your hearing healthcare provider monitor and treat changes in your hearing. During an evaluation, your provider will determine if you have hearing loss and if so, what type and whether it is in both ears or just one.
- Prevent or reduce anxiety. That’s right untreated hearing loss, has been linked to increased anxiety and similar mental and emotional conditions according to the results of a study by the National Council on Aging.
- Set a good example. You never know who’s watching and how you can impact that person’s health by getting regular hearing evaluations. It could be a child or grandchild, friend or spouse who sees the importance following your example by caring for their hearing health.
- Uncover underlying health issues. Experts learn more every day about how connected the systems of the body are. This includes the ears and hearing. During a hearing evaluation, your hearing healthcare provider may find evidence of other health concerns. In fact, recent research suggests hearing loss may be an early indicator of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and stroke.
- Reduce your risk of cognitive decline. While the connection is still unclear, untreated hearing loss is now linked to cognitive decline. There are many theories including reduced social interaction, increased load on the brain and possible changes in the makeup of the brain itself.
- Protect your income. It may seem impossible, but studies have linked hearing loss to lower lifetime earnings. Studies indicate that hearing loss is linked to both unemployment and underemployment. According to “The Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss on Household Income” report from the Better Hearing Institute, those with untreated hearing loss may, “make mistakes on the job, experience higher rates of unemployment and in general may experience an overall reduction in quality of life (i.e. anxiety, depression, social isolation, social paranoia, medical health, emotional stability, cognitive functioning, etc) which may negatively impact job performance.” All of this can impact job performance and earnings.
- Reduce your risk of falls. According to researchers Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D., at Johns Hopkins, and his colleague Luigi Ferrucci, M.D., Ph.D., of the National Institute on Aging an increased risk of falls is a very real concern for those with hearing loss. The pair found that “people with a 25-decibel hearing loss, classified as mild, were nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling. Every additional 10-decibels of hearing loss increased the chances of falling by 1.4 fold.”
- Improve communication. Communication can be hard enough with perfect hearing, let alone with hearing loss. Skip the frustration and schedule an evaluation to determine if you are affected by hearing loss and, if so, get treated. Solutions such as hearing aids can keep those essential lines of communication open.
- Reduce the risk of depression. A hearing evaluation may not seem like the first step in improving mental health, but science is underscoring just how important it can be. Untreated hearing loss has been linked again and again to depression which, in turn, may be connected to increased risk of dementia.
- Maintain or improve your social life. Getting your hearing checked can help ensure that your social life stays active. Unfortunately, hearing loss can lead many to become more isolated to avoid frustrating social interactions and challenging conversations. Treating hearing loss is an important step to keep enjoying time with friends and family.
Hearing health is such an important part of our total wellness. Don’t forget to schedule regular professional hearing evaluations to help protect it, identify hearing loss early and manage that hearing loss to maintain your total health and wellness.