Hearing loss is a widespread challenge for older people, but does it warrant giving up driving? The response isn’t clear-cut, as driving habits vary among individuals.
Even if some adjustments need to be made to the volume of the radio, hearing loss shouldn’t mean a competent driver has to stop driving.
Whether hearing loss presents a risk while driving is a critical consideration for those planning everyday commutes or winter road trips. Is your hearing loss making you a hazardous driver?
Think beyond driving…
If you are detecting hearing loss, it won’t have a substantial impact on your ability to drive…yet. That day is coming, though, if you choose to simply dismiss your decline.
Johns Hopkins Medicine reports there is a definite connection between hearing and brain health. The brain has to work overtime fighting to hear, which causes it to have fewer resources for other day-to-day tasks. It is a contributing factor to brain atrophy, which leads to dementia. Somebody suffering from dementia certainly can’t drive.
If you have hearing loss, can you still drive?
You can continue to drive with hearing loss, but it should be noted that safe driving requires strong observational skills and this includes auditory awareness. The Center for Hearing and Communication estimates about 48 million Americans have substantial hearing loss, and a good number of them still drive.
Guidelines for driving if you have hearing loss
With some adjustments, you can still continue to be safe on the road. Here are some tips.
Stop putting off
Visit us, have your hearing tested, and consider how hearing aids can help things for you. The question of whether you should be driving can be eliminated by using hearing aids.
Be a more observant driver
Even if you have hearing aids, you will still need to be a more aware driver to make sure you aren’t missing anything in or surrounding your vehicle.
Keep the noise down inside your car
This will help you be less distracted. Turn the radio off or down and ask your passengers to keep the chit-chat to a minimum.
Keep an eye on your dash lights
It’s the little things that will mount up when you drive with hearing loss. For example, you won’t hear that clicking sound that tells you that your turn signal is blinking. So regularly look at your dashboard because your eyes will have to pick up the slack.
Make maintenance a priority
You may not hear that rattling noise under the hood anymore or the warning alarm alerting you to a problem with your engine or another essential component. Get your car serviced routinely so you can prevent this significant safety risk. For people with hearing loss, this is crucial, even more so than it would be for somebody who doesn’t have hearing loss.
Watch the other cars closely
Of course, you would do that anyway, but you want to watch for signs you might be missing something. You may not hear emergency sirens, for instance, so if the cars are pulling over to the side, you should as well. Use the behavior of other drivers to get some visual clues about traffic patterns around you.
Can you drive with hearing loss? That’s up to you. Your other senses will normally adjust to help keep you safe, which means it is possible to drive safely even if your hearing is beginning to go. If the idea makes you uneasy, though, then it’s time to come see us and find a treatment to improve your situation, like wearing hearing aids.
Contact us today to schedule your hearing exam and look into hearing aid options for your unique lifestyle.