Hearing Hobbies: Gardening with Hearing Aids
As people lose their hearing, they tend to give up their hobbies out of fear that they won’t be the same. Gardening is a popular hobby among many people, and it allows us to connect with nature while taking pride in our creations. Whether you have a flowerbed full of spring blooms, a vegetable garden, or a well-trimmed lawn, gardening is a rewarding hobby that everyone can enjoy. This includes people who are Hard of Hearing (HoH). In fact, gardening is one of the best hobbies for those with hearing loss.
Flowers and plants speak in silence, so you don’t need to hear in order to tend to them. Unlike animals or children, you don’t need words or sounds to solve problems in a garden. It is a relaxing, quiet hobby for anyone that values silence, and it’s easy to create hearing loss friendly gardens no matter where you live. However, there are some things you should know about gardening with hearing aids, and how to protect your hearing while you’re working.
Should You Wear Hearing Aids While Gardening?
If you have a pair of hearing aids or are in the process of getting fitted, you might be wondering how hearing aids might change the experience for you. While it might seem pointless to wear them while doing quiet, solo activities like knitting, gardening, and cleaning, hearing aids can help you make the most of your time outdoors. Many people who wear hearing aids report that the sounds of nature were something they missed the most.
While flowers and vegetable gardens are silent, that doesn’t mean there’s no sound to be heard. The chirping of birds, the hum of bees, and the gentle rustle of leaves and trees are all sounds that add to the gardening experience. Being outdoors is about more than seeing and feeling nature, it’s about hearing it, too.
While it’s okay to take breaks from wearing your hearing aids, consider wearing them outside from time to time. You might be surprised by how pleasant nature can sound. As long as you take precautions, there’s no harm in wearing your hearing aids while gardening.
How to Protect Your Hearing Aids
Like most outdoor activities, there’s a chance that something could happen to your hearing aids while gardening. However, this is a slim possibility, and you shouldn’t feel fearful or hesitant to wear them. It’s just something to consider before putting your hands in the dirt.
Dirt is one of the primary concerns when gardening with hearing aids. If your hearing aid comes loose or falls in the garden, it can be easily lost or ruined. Like sand, dirt can get inside of your hearing aid and cause damage to the delicate interior. You should make sure that your hearing aids are properly fitted, and avoid shaking your head while standing over pots or flowerbeds. If you need to readjust your hearing aid, make sure your hands are clean before doing so.
Water is the next thing to consider. While some hearing models are water resistant, there is no such thing as a waterproof hearing aid. If you get drenched by rain or sprayed by a hose for a longer period of time, your hearing aids could take water damage. Make sure that your hearing aids don’t become wet, and immediately dry & dehumidify them if they do.
Creating Hearing Loss Friendly Gardens
Building a hearing loss friendly garden isn’t difficult, and it can actually help you protect your hearing, regardless of whether you have hearing loss or not. If you share a communal garden with a HoH person or want to create a safe place for your HoH loved one, a garden can be a lovely opportunity for them to enjoy their surroundings and rekindle their love for nature.
There are a few things to note. HoH gardens should not be placed near fences, roads, or driveways. The gardener might not be able to hear approaching cars, and neighboring people and pets can easily sneak up on them when they’re working by fences. Being interrupted by an aggressive dog or fussy neighbor can be unpleasant, especially if they can’t hear them coming. If they are fitted with hearing aids, the sound of traffic can be intensely unpleasant, so it’s best to nestle the garden in a quiet corner of the yard.
For those that enjoy mowing the lawn, it’s recommended that you turn down or remove your hearing aids before beginning. Hearing risk gardening is something to consider, especially when dealing with loud equipment like lawnmowers. Even if you don’t have hearing loss, it’s recommended that you wear hearing protection while using lawnmowers and weed-whackers. Noise exposure can happen at any time, so you want to avoid loud noises when you can.
The Sensory Benefits of Gardening
For those with profound or untreatable hearing loss, gardening is a preferred hobby. Touch and sight are the two primary senses being used, and there’s a lot of variety to be found. Some plants are fuzzy, succulents can be cool and tender, and flowers have velvet-soft petals. Flowerbeds serve as canvases for colorful arrays, and vegetable gardens offer a chance to grow delicious food. People who have lost or limited use of a certain sense rely on their other senses, and gardening can be a way to stimulate the brain with positive sensations.
If you do wear hearing aids, gardening is a chance to enjoy the sounds of the world. Many people, especially those who work jobs in urban areas, don’t get many opportunities to connect with nature and listen to birdsong. Gardening gives us an incentive to step outside and smell the roses, literally and figuratively. You can even invite friends and family to join you, and your garden will grow in size and color over time.
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