Monitoring wellness with the latest gadgetry does more than just report back statistics. It also keeps users engaged and motivated as new behaviors become habits. The Fitbit craze that induced office-wide step challenges is spreading into other realms of wellness and that includes the hearing aid industry.
A new app released by Oticon and compatible with OPN hearing aids recently received a CES Innovation Award in the Software and Mobile Apps category. Beyond impressing the audiology field, it also engages users on a whole new level to participate in their hearing wellness. And the need is certainly present. Hearing loss ranks as one of the top public health issues, with 1 in 5 Americans reporting some degree of hearing loss.
What app with that?
The new app provides all the data you could ever want from a monitoring system. You can track hearing aid use, listening environments and as well as additional hearing behaviors. Along with hearing wellness data, it also measures heart rate, sleep patterns and other health markers tracked by wearable devices. All this data is then collated and presented for use. Outside of data gathering, OPN users are also provided with suggestions and encouragement as they seek to continually hear better and stay in tune with their healthiest hearing behaviors.
Why hearing health is so important
The gadgets of the past have been incredibly helpful in raising awareness around those important indicators of general health. Tracking physical activity and biofeedback on heart rate and sleep patterns is invaluable. However, it’s becoming increasingly evident the role that healthy hearing plays in general well-being. Hearing loss has been linked to all sorts of other problematic health issues. Undiagnosed and untreated, it can wreak havoc on emotional, mental and physical wellbeing.
Folks with undiagnosed and untreated hearing loss are far more likely to report symptoms of depression. This is likely the result of the isolating behaviors that settle in when communication becomes increasingly frustrating and unsatisfying.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease show a strong link with hearing loss. The actual causation for the correlation is unknown. One theory suggests that the same social isolation that results in depression increases the risk for dementia. It’s is also believed that the areas of the brain responsible for housing memory are those that also translate sound information into hearing. As a person with undiagnosed or untreated hearing loss stops using this sound translating area of the brain, irregularities begin to occur, possibly raising the risk for dementia.
Hearing health takes the lead
Age related hearing loss afflicts those 65 years and older at far great rates than younger demographics. It only gets worse as populations age, with half of people over 75 reporting some degree of hearing loss. Instead of accepting this as par for the course aging, using the Oticon OPN app allows people with hearing loss to take charge of their hearing habits and environments. Treating hearing health as a part of general wellness increases the likelihood that users will be able to maintain as close to their current degree of hearing as possible. It also assists in forming behaviors that encourage socialization and physical activity, two of the most important ways to interrupt both the increased risk of depression as well as dementia in those with hearing loss.
Feedback for further innovation
What’s potentially most exciting for hearing aid wearers is the type of data that will now be available for researchers to further improve hearing aid technology. As it becomes increasingly clear the ways in which hearing aids are used, when they are most successful and the listening situations most encountered, the data will assist in developing future devices.
Outside of general data, personalized data will provide users and their audiologists remarkable amounts of information that can be used to ensure that wearers are getting the most out of their hearing aids at all times.
Keep up on hearing health
It’s important to monitor hearing health with an app or just the old-fashioned way for now. This means scheduling annual hearing tests with us at Atlanta Hearing Doctor. We will be able to make a reliable diagnosis and make sound suggestions for treatment and intervention.