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Love to Me On Valentine’s Day

February 14 is always Valentine’s Day, traditionally celebrated with declarations of love and gifts of flowers and chocolate for your special someone. But what if instead, each year, you gave yourself a special gift?   

This gift could be a trip to a spa, an expensive dinner with your lover, or a girls’ weekend getaway with friends you don’t see nearly often enough. Or…I know this may sound weird, but you finally schedule the medical examination you’ve been thinking about forever…the one that always falls to the bottom of your priority list.  

For me, that would be having my hearing checked by a professional audiologist.  I’m 66 and for a while now, I’ve been saying to my husband when we watch TV, “I need the captions. I can’t understand the British accents.” Or “I need the captions. I hate it when the actors mumble and talk so quickly!”

I have an undergraduate degree in Speech and Language Pathology and a Master’s in Speech Pathology so I’m well aware that age-related hearing loss occurs gradually for many of us as we grow older and increases the risk of age-related dementia. In fact, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders states, “one in three people in the U.S. between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss” and “nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing.” Put another way, according to WebMD, “More than 48 million Americans hear so poorly that their quality of life significantly suffers as a result.” 

Hearing loss negatively impacts our ability to connect with others, which increases loneliness. As the founder of Prime Time for Women, an organization that seeks to promote healthy aging by fostering positive social connections that celebrate, connect, and empower women, I am committed to ending loneliness and rewriting the script on aging! According to the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, “Our epidemic of loneliness and isolation has been an underappreciated public health crisis that has harmed individual and societal health. Our relationships are a source of healing and well-being hiding in plain sight – one that can help us live healthier, more fulfilled, and more productive lives.” 

The good news is that whether hearing loss is due to age-related changes in the middle ear, long-term exposure to noise, or underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, which are associated with an increased risk of hearing loss, once diagnosed, there are treatments and devices that can drastically improve the quality of your hearing…and your life! But it all starts with taking care of yourself! 

Perhaps, I’m writing this article to prod myself to follow through on my intention to have my hearing checked. I hope that by sharing this intention with the Prime Time for Women community it serves as a kind of accountability measure. I hope the next time you see me or think of me, you ask, “Did you follow through with your intention? Did you make yourself a priority? How did you celebrate Valentine’s Day?”

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