Senior woman listening to music

Why is it important for seniors to choose the right headphones?

Senior Health

Loud noises are thought to be one of the most dangerous threats to seniors hearing. And while it might be true that endless hours next to speakers at rock concerts or incessant jackhammering at work without proper protection do their fair share of damage, there are other more subtle causes to trouble out there. Sometimes, it’s not the fault of one’s surroundings, but rather a single device, that ends up causing trouble with one’s ears. And unlike previous years, where it might have taken a long time for hearing damage actually to set in, a perfect storm of factors in the digital age is leading to more and more cases where trouble with hearing starts earlier and earlier.

Senior man wearing an hearing aid

In our highly mobile society, more and more people are listening to music through headphones on a daily basis. Whether it’s the commute to work on the subway or the bus or just going for a jog, the rise in portable music players means that now it’s easier than ever to bring your favorite music with you wherever you go.

However, a lot of these new music devices come with a free pair of the wrong kind of headphones: earbuds. Earbuds sit in the ear’s canal, instead of on the surface of the ear, and the sort of sound that they deliver is more likely to cause hearing damage over time because it is piping the sound more directly, without any cushion. Also important to consider is the fact that, because earbuds have no noise canceling quality to them, most people who are listening to their MP3 players with them have them turned up to a level that is already doing damage for hearing.

For those seniors who love listening to music on headphones more than they are on stereo systems, the risks for trouble are even higher. But with a couple of simple steps, it’s possible to get around the same risks that cause so many others to lose hearing at old ages. Many people wonder why is it important for seniors to choose the right headphones. 

#1 – Noise-canceling headphones do their job. If you pick these, then you’re not going to need to turn the volume all the way up to hear what’s playing over the sounds of the city. And less volume means less long-term damage.

#2 – Volume controls. Some headphones come with built-in volume control, meaning there’s another way to limit just how loud the tunes get without relying on the laptop or portable music advice that might not have a limit in place.

#3 – Exposure times. More and more seniors are getting their music fix with headphones on, meaning that sometimes there are hours of headphone use. With loud volumes, this can cause some severe damage. It’s crucial, then, to take breaks, no matter what headphones are being used. But with those models that provide some canceling of outside noises, there is less of a risk of hours of music being piped in resulting in hearing loss.

#4 – Longevity. In addition to being bad for ears, cheaper headphones tend to break quicker. This means that the money spent replacing them should have been put towards a better pair, which will not just be healthier, but also better for one’s budget.

#5 – Earbuds are the most significant cause of early-onset hearing loss. In incredibly young people, the impact of listening to music through earbuds has been blamed for serious increases in hearing loss. Because there is no muffling from outside noises and because the earbuds sit deeper in the ear than traditional headphones, it means a direct line of damage. The sort of damage earbuds can inflict the most important reason to pick the right headphones.

#6 – Long-term safety. With more people listening through headphones, making an informed decision the first time can save a ton of money in the future, and lead to fewer health problems. It makes sense to get it right the first time.

#7 – City noise and music listening. With more people choosing to live in louder areas, where it makes sense to spend time listening to music through headphones rather than competing with neighbors who are blaring stereos, it’s important to make sure that the headphones in place don’t require serious blasting of volume.

No matter what sort of headphones for seniors you are using, there are still some necessary steps to take when trying to avoid hearing problems. Setting the master volume on your MP3 player to something lower than its maximum capacity is one beneficial move, and this can be done on pretty much every commercial player available, including iPods.

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