Hearing loss is a disability that is untreated in about 85 percent of those affected and it may be the nation’s most damaging and costly sensory handicap. Its onset usually proceeds in a subtle way, gradually worsening over years and thus easily ignored.
Untreated hearing loss has serious emotional and social consequences for older persons, according to amajor study by The National Council on the Aging (NCOA). The study was conducted by the Seniors Research Group, an alliance between NCOA and Market Strategies, Inc.
The study found that those with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety, paranoia and were less likely to participate in organized social activities, compared to those who wear hearing aids.
When hearing loss is acknowledged and treated, it can have a profound impact on a person’s life.
I can think of a patient of mine who is a pilot for one of the major airlines. His second week into wearing hearing aids, a co-worker began to tell him how he had seemed to be rather reclusive the last couple years and now he seems to want to engage in every conversation around him.
Just like my patient the pilot, hearing aid users report significant improvements in many areas of their lives.
- Their relationships at home improve
- They feel a new sense of independence
- Their social lives expand
- Their job performance increases at work
I will close with a poem written by Roy Bain (1996) that hangs in our waiting area.
When at first our hearing begins to fade;
Though the signs are foretelling, we may choose to evade.
We tell others they don’t speak clearly, the mumble a lot;
My concentration is elsewhere, that’s why I ask what.
Please talk a bit louder, your voice is so weak;
I could hear you OK, if you’d look at me as you speak.
I can hear you just fine, when you’re close at hand;
If you would learn to enunciate, I could understand.
Being with family is one of life’s greatest joys;
But, don’t expect me to hear, with all of that noise.
It’s easy to blame others, though it’s not really fair;
It’s your hearing problem, solve it, show others you care.
He who said “silence is golden’ spoke for himself only;
For the hearing impaired, “silence is lonely”.
I can’t tell you how many times a patient has said “I wish I had my hearing loss treated sooner”. If you feel that you or one of your loved ones has a hearing problem, please reach out to us with any questions about hearing loss or hearing aids.