Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing
A new box of crayons, a clean slate, a newborn baby, January 1st — what do all of these things have in common? They’re an opportunity for a fresh start, the promise of a new beginning and the motivation behind the phenomenon of proclaiming our intentions for self-improvement at the start of each new year.
Folklore related to making New Year’s resolutions dates all the way back to the ancient Babylonians, who celebrated the new year with an 11-day festival at which they made resolutions to keep themselves in good standing with the gods. Four thousand years later, making New Year’s resolutions is still a popular tradition worldwide.
We asked Healthy Hearing readers to tell us about their New Year’s resolutions and more than 100 responded. Like the majority of Americans who plan to make at least one 2018 resolution, health was number one area of improvement on the list, with 100% of respondents indicating hearing health an important part of their overall health.
Do you make New Year’s resolutions?
While just over 46 percent of Healthy Hearing survey respondents said they were at least moderately likely to participate in this annual ritual, roughly 26 percent of respondents indicated they were not at all likely to do so. That differs slightly from national statistics, according to information compiled by Statistic Brain, which estimates close to 41 percent of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions while a full 42 percent of Americans claim they absolutely never make them.
Fortunately, you don’t need to make a New Year’s resolution in order to make positive changes in your hearing health. All it takes is a quick phone call to your local hearing center to have your hearing evaluated. With that as a baseline, you can work with your hearing healthcare professional to make sure you’re hearing your best.
Areas for improvement
When asked what area of life could most stand improving with a resolution, Healthy Hearing survey respondents overwhelmingly chose health. Personal finance was a distant second to health and relationships, hobbies and interests, and career rounded out the list.
Fortunately, treating hearing loss can help you improve in all of these areas. Those who wear hearing devices report better quality of life and make more money than their counterparts with untreated hearing loss.
Our respondents weren’t overly optimistic about their ability to carry through with their resolutions. Only 6.54 percent said their resolutions were either extremely or very likely to become positive, life-changing habits. A little more than 61 percent of respondents said their resolutions were moderately or slightly likely to have staying power. A pessimistic one-third of respondents, 31.78 percent, said they were not at all likely to keep their resolutions.
Nevertheless, we run with an optimistic crowd according to Statistic Brain, which reports only 9.2 percent of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions say they are successful in achieving them.
You can successfully make hearing health a priority by scheduling annual hearing evaluations at the same time of year you schedule other medical appointments (think eye exams and physicals). Changes in your hearing health may signal other medical issues, especially circulatory-related issues such as diabetes and heart disease. Untreated hearing loss puts you at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease as well as depression, anxiety and social isolation.
Celebrating a new year
It’s going to be a quiet night in most households if our survey respondents are any indication. Just over 41 percent said they would stay snuggled up on the sofa to watch the countdown on television, and 31.78 percent would turn in early, even before the clock strikes midnight. While some do plan head out for the festivities, not a single soul reported plans to go to Times Square and watch the ball drop with thousands of new friends.
If you do plan to be one of the revelers this year, protect your hearing. Fireworks register noise levels of more than 150 decibels (dB), rock concerts register (110 dB) — even noisemakers register a loud 140 dB, all of which are loud enough to cause temporary or permanent hearing damage. A pair of inexpensive foam earplugs from your local drug store is an effective way to protect against the dangers of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Carry a pair in your pocket, purse or car so you’re ready for every holiday celebration.
Hearing is vital to overall health
Healthy Hearing survey participants are savvy when it comes to their health, as 93.46 percent indicated good hearing is absolutely important or very important to overall health.
The truth is, investing in your hearing health can pay dividends in greater overall physical and emotional health, especially for those over the age of 65. If you’re a student or still in the workplace, your state vocational rehabilitation program may pay for your hearing aids. Veterans can seek help from the Veteran’s Administration. Many hearing centers offer low-cost hearing evaluations and payment plans for hearing devices, so there’s no reason to procrastinate. Regardless of whether or not you make New Year’s resolutions, resolve to see a hearing healthcare professional near you early in the new year so you can hear your best all year long.