When the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) designated May as Better Hearing and Speech Month back in 1927, their goal was to raise awareness about speech and hearing challenges. May is a call to action to encourage people to treat their own hearing and speech problems. This mission is just as pertinent today as it was 92 years ago, perhaps even more so today because we know more about hearing loss and its effects on our quality of life more than ever before. This year, the theme of Better Hearing and Speech Month is “Communication Across the Lifespan.” This includes the importance of preventing hearing loss, recognizing the signs early, and making the newest treatment available to as many people as possible.
Hearing Loss Statistics
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) states: “Approximately 15 percent of American adults, or 37.5 million people, report some degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss can lead to feelings of isolation and a lack of connection with family, friends, and community.” Unfortunately, only 20% of those individuals who might benefit from treatment actually seek help. Most tend to delay treatment until they cannot communicate even in the best of listening situations. On average, hearing aid users wait over 10 years after their initial diagnosis to be fit with their first set of hearing aids.
The Dangers of Untreated Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is an invisible condition that puts a strain on one’s most cherished relationships – especially the ones closest to you. People with untreated hearing loss start to avoid social situations as it becomes increasingly more difficult to participate in casual conversation. If you have to communicate in a work environment, you can just imagine how this must impact one’s experience navigating the work place. Ultimately people with untreated hearing loss tend to withdraw, self-isolate, and become depressed. Although it is increasingly prevalent with age, hearing loss is often ignored during the diagnosis and treatment of cognitive and memory disorders in elderly patients. The truth is, that not treating your hearing loss has been linked to poor mental health, brain disease and even dementia.
Why Not Seek Treatment?
Many people delay in seeking hearing health services because of stigma. In order to live functionally with hearing loss, one must recognize and accept that they have a hearing loss. Specifically, many people must overcome the misplaced shame and poor self-esteem that they often experience. Another reason people delay treatment for hearing loss is the expense attached to the hearing devices. While people often fear that the investment is too high, they don’t understand that choosing to live with untreated hearing loss will cost you far more than the price of hearing aids. There are payment plans available to make the investment more manageable. Ignoring hearing loss doesn’t solve the problem, and the longer you live with untreated hearing loss the worse your hearing will become. Research has shown improved quality of life and overall satisfaction when significant others receive support and education regarding hearing loss and communication strategies
The Future of Hearing Aids
Hearing aid technology has made major advancements in the last few years, most notably through the development of digital hearing aids. These new hearing aid models incorporate tiny computer chips designed to customize sounds for the user – making speech more amplified and background noise softer so it’s easier to hear. Digital hearing aids also solve many of the problems analog hearing aids could not, such as suppressed background noise and automatic cancellation of the irritating whistling sound that is so common with analog hearing aids. Hearing aid technology has not only become more advanced, its smaller and more discreet so people may not even notice you are wearing them. There has never been a better time than now to be in need of hearing aids, and, in the future, the innovative features of hearing aids will only be more plentiful and affordable. With the latest styles, discreet sizes and wireless technology that connect consumers to the world around them, there are less and less reasons to delay wearing hearing aids.
May is the Moment!
If you suspect you have hearing loss, use Better Hearing and Speech Month as a reason to contact us at Gulf Gate Hearing Aid Center. We can set you up with a hearing test so you can know exactly what kind of hearing loss you have. We can help you find the best hearing aids for your needs so you can get back to living the life you deserve.