You are not alone. In fact, 1.5 million children, one in fourteen Generation X, one in six Baby Boomers, and one in three people over 65 suffer from hearing loss. Yet it\u2019s the nation\u2019s most misunderstood disability. More than 27 million Americans fail to treat the problem despite links to debilitating diseases like dementia and Alzheimer\u2019s. What\u2019s more, those with untreated hearing loss experience a 30 to 40 percent greater decline in overall thinking abilities compared to those without hearing loss. That\u2019s because, over the years, the brain forgets how to make sense of sounds, and even when these sounds are reintroduced through amplification, the brain may not be able to effectively use this new information. Thankfully, Avalon Hearing has developed a five-ingredient recipe for successfully approaching hearing loss and aids. 1. Be a Motivated and Informed Consumer. Most Americans wait about five years too long before seeking the help they need, but unfortunately, the longer they wait, the more difficulty they have adjusting their hearing instruments because of \u201cauditory deprivation.\u201d The sooner you start the discovery process, the better, but you should start with the right attitude: (1) want to hear and understand more clearly, (2) be willing to take the time to retrain your brain to listen in a new way, and (3) understand that new hearing instruments may not bring you instant gratification. 2. Learn What Makes a Good Hearing Aid. First, it\u2019s extremely important to be comfortable with your hearing aids\u2014with both how they physically feel and how they technologically operate. Second, your hearing aids should absolutely not whistle or feedback, which can be embarrassing and annoying, and they should adjust when you\u2019re exposed to loud sounds like a noisy restaurant. Third, properly programmed hearing aids should make speech clearer and enhance what\u2019s left of your hearing. (Think of good hearing aids as exercise machines for what\u2019s left of your hearing plus the auditory parts of your brain.) Fourth, hearing aids come in four levels of technology: entry level, basic, advanced, and superior. Only thorough hearing and lifestyle testing will determine the level of technology best for you. 3. Find a Healthcare Provider You Trust. You should feel like a partner in decisions about your hearing, so being comfortable with your provider is of the utmost importance. Here are 10 questions you should ask yourself when scouting for the right match: 1. How thorough was your hearing evaluation? Did the provider get to know you (60\u201390 minutes) or just do a quick test (15\u201330 minutes)? 2. Did you feel respected? 3. Did you learn exactly what you\u2019re hearing, what you\u2019re missing, and whether you\u2019re overly sensitive to loud sounds? 4. Were you given at least two or three technology choices based on your hearing loss, lifestyle, and budget? 5. Was the importance of helping both ears discussed? 6. Do any promises sound too good to be true? 7. Did you discuss realistic expectations for your fitting, including measuring your ability to understand speech in noise? 8. Were your rights as a consumer reviewed? (For example, did you know that you have a 45-day return privilege in California?) 9. Did you learn about the importance of follow-up care? 10. And, of course, did you feel comfortable?\u00a0 4. Understand the Importance of Supportive Family A supportive family is paramount in the process. Here are the top six things you and your loved ones need to know: (1) hearing loss is hard, so be kind to each other; (2) effective communication is a highly complex phenomenon; (3) hearing loss affects everyone, especially the people closest to you; (4) your family must be educated about your hearing loss so they, too, can have realistic expectations; (5) include your spouse or another close family member in the initial hearing test and the fitting of instruments; and (6) attend a \u201cLiving Happily Ever After with Hearing Loss\u201d class together. The more the family knows, the easier it is for everyone to live together successfully with hearing loss. 5. Enhance Your Listening Skills. Effective listening involves complex cognitive processing of the brain, and as we age, following conversations can be compromised by hearing loss as well as by natural aging. However, programs like Listening and Communication Enhancement (LACE), a ten-hour aural rehabilitation software package, can teach you to (1) listen more effectively in noisy environments, (2) understand fast talkers with more ease, (3) focus on one voice over another voice, (4) improve your short- and long-term memory, and (5) enhance your processing speed and use of contextual cues. Those who commit to doing this program over a four-week period for 30 minutes per day five days per week averaged a 40 percent improvement in listening skills, which can change your life. To start hearing the best you can for life, find out more at Avalon Hearing. It accepts all types of insurance, offers 600 types of hearing aids, and is currently giving a $500 discount. Only five million Americans find hearing instruments that make them happy; count yourself as one of them by calling Avalon Hearing today at 888-490-0056.