HOW COMMON IS HEARING LOSS
It is likely that you know far more people impacted by disabling hearing loss than you may expect. In fact, strange as it may seem, it could be someone so close to you that it is almost impossible to recognize: yourself.
Almost 14% of all Americans 18 years old and older live with some detectable degree of hearing loss. This is more common than diabetes or cancer, affecting almost 50 million Americans. This includes 6.3% of people aged 18-44; 13.6% of those aged 45-64; over 26% of people 65-74 years old; and an incredible 50% or more of everyone over the age of 75. The fact that this percentage increases as the demographic ages helps explain why many people may not recognize that they themselves are suffering a compromised condition.
WHY PEOPLE MAY NOT RECOGNIZE THEIR OWN HEARING LOSS
In a way, if you think about it, we live within our five senses. At every moment, we are depending on them to register and decode our environment. In familiar environments, such as our own homes, we can relax, confident that we know where everything is and how it impacts us. The lass familiar our environment at any moment, the more we are depending on the instantaneous reception of our senses to understand our present situation. So it is only natural that we come to understand our own senses as the standard of fidelity and comprehension.
As the above statistics show, hearing loss comes on gradually with age. If you are the unfortunate victim of a sudden accident in which you lose your hearing all at once, of course you will know. But if you are returning habitually to familiar environments each day, your place of employment or favorite recreation, and the fidelity of your perception is decreasing infinitesimally each day, how would you notice? This is why hearing loss is so commonly recognized by its symptomatic behavior.
EXAMPLES OF DIFFICULTIES COMMUNICATING
You are not likely to notice if you have turned your television’s volume up to 12 instead of 10. If you do notice, you are likely to subconsciously attribute it to background noise, the dull murmur of traffic, ventilation or appliances. You may not even notice if a little at a time you are asking friends, family, or colleagues to repeat themselves more frequently. Especially when background noise is present, everyone does this sometimes. You may be making out most of what someone says and be filling in the parts you miss with contextual clues. And it is unlikely that there will be an apparent tipping point at which you are just unable to comprehend someone. Many people get in the habit of reading lips without even knowing that they are doing so. This is why it is so common for others to recognize your hearing loss before you recognize it yourself. And given the potential stakes of failing to take action to treat hearing loss, it is vital that you say something if you suspect that someone you know is having trouble hearing you.
HAVE THAT DIFFICULT CONVERSATION
Of course it may be awkward to initiate this conversation. No one likes to be the bearer of bad news, especially when it concerns the health of someone we care about. But given the stakes for how hearing loss unravels into more serious conditions that threaten one’s quality of life, it is imperative that you speak up. Untreated, hearing loss can lead to social withdrawal, loneliness, depression, disorientation, and cognitive decline.
So choose the right moment. Make sure there is little background noise and you have the person’s complete attention. Face them directly and speak clearly and slowly. Explain that hearing loss is common and nothing to be ashamed about. Studies show that 2/3 of all people with hearing loss fail to address it adequately. And among those that do, people wait an average of seven years between first realizing that they may have a problem and finally committing to wearing a hearing aid. Explain the gravity of the risks and how much this person means to you. You want them to enjoy the simple things that give our lives satisfaction: the chuckle of an old friend or an old favorite tune.
Make two appointments with one of our specialists today, one for yourself and one for the person that you suspect may be having troubles hearing. This normalizes healthy hearing habits. It is always the right time to take action and turn your life around to guarantee that it can be enjoyed to its greatest potential.