Hearing loss can require more work while engaging in daily activities. From having conversations with loved ones to watching TV, it can take more effort for people with hearing loss to navigate these interactions. This includes driving – an essential way people get around and complete everyday tasks. It is especially important for older adults who may be experiencing hearing loss to practice additional measures for road safety. There are several tips that you can easily implement to increase safety and spatial awareness. A few tips include the following:
- Maximize hearing aid use. Hearing aids provide the ears and brain with ample hearing support. They alleviate symptoms and increase your capacity to hear and process sound. It is important to wear your hearing aids during waking hours, especially while driving. Hearing aids allow you to hear more of what is going on in your environment including potential hazards. This increases spatial awareness and allows you to navigate with greater safety.
If you have newly received hearing aids, it is important to know that it can take a little bit of time to fully adjust to your device. Hearing aids are unlike glasses which you put on and vision is instantly enhanced. With hearing aids, the ears and brain are hearing and processing sounds that you have likely not heard in quite some time. It takes some adjusting to get familiar with new soundscapes and way of hearing. Be sure to give yourself the time to fully acclimate to your hearing aids.
- Make sure you can see. Because hearing is impaired, other sensory inputs become even more important. It is helpful to enhance your visual capacity as much as possible. There are a few ways you can do this including:
- Get your vision checked regularly to ensure that your eyesight is adequate and if you have any vision challenges, they are treated promptly.
- If you wear contacts or glasses, be sure that your prescription is up to date.
- Adjust seating in the car so that you are able to see at least 10 feet ahead.
- Expand the rearview mirror by adding extensions so you are able to see more.
- Clean windshield and windows regularly so that you are able to see through them clearly.
These tips can significantly enhance vision and your ability to access and read visual cues
which is a necessary way to stay safe while driving.
- Keep extra supplies in your car. Another great tip is to keep extra supplies for your hearing aid in the car. This includes batteries or a charging unit if your hearing aid offers rechargeable options. This ensures that if your hearing aids have low battery, you can quickly replace them.
- Reduce noise. Attention span and reaction time can change as you age. So it is important to reduce noise as much as possible so you are able to easily focus on driving and navigating the road. Additional noise can overload the brain by providing excess noise to process and filter through. It can also prevent you from hearing potential warning signs. A few ways you can reduce noise levels while driving include:
- Drive with the windows rolled up to cut down on environmental noise.
- Maintain low volume levels on any audio playing in the car (music, podcast, audiobook etc.).
- Avoid having conversations in the car if it impacts your attention to the road.
- Avoid high traffic areas and peak traffic times
These tips can go a long way toward reducing the amount of noise you are exposed to,
helping you and your brain stay focused while driving.
- Minimize distractions. In addition to reducing exposure to noise, it is helpful to reduce other distractions as much as possible. Key ways you can do this include to avoid multitasking – texting, eating, talking on the phone, reading directions etc. These are activities that people often engage in while driving which can shift your attention off the road.
- Use Bluetooth navigation. Another useful tip is to wirelessly connect to your GPS. Hearing aids that are Bluetooth enabled can wireless connect to your GPS in the car, allowing your device to stream audio directly from the GPS. This prevents you from having to look directions up and struggling to hear directions. You can seamlessly listen and follow directions with greater ease.
These tips can help you drive with confidence and enhanced safety. Contact us to learn more about driving with hearing aids.