Stereotypes and prejudices have followed hearing loss for years, at Wesson Hearing Center we are here to fight these misconceptions. Hearing loss has been around since the beginning of time and has affected people of all ages, backgrounds and creeds. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, about 20 percent of Americans — that’s around 48 million people — report some degree of hearing loss. Almost 15 percent of kids ages 6-19 have some degree of hearing loss and by the time individuals reach age 65 or higher approximately 1 in 3 people have hearing loss. More people have hearing loss than suffer from diabetes, Alzheimer’s, autism, and osteoporosis combined — incredible that somehow hearing health issues slip under the radar!
Why is this? Why is there such a stigma around hearing technology if so many people are affected? First and foremost it is simply not a priority within the national healthcare dialogue — there always seems to be another health issue prioritized over hearing health. Another big reason the stigma continues may also be the fact that hearing loss is not life threatening (at least not immediately life threatening) and people are uneducated about the subject of hearing health.
That’s why we are here, to educate individuals on why it is so important to tackle hearing loss head on! Due to the stigma, many people whose lives could improve from treating their hearing loss do not. According to the NIDCD, of adults aged 70 and older who experience hearing loss and could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than 30 percent have ever used them! Even fewer adults aged 20 to 69 who could benefit from wearing hearing aids have ever sought help. This will not do.
Over a six-year study at Johns Hopkins, the cognitive abilities of older adults with hearing loss declined 30-40 percent faster than in older adults whose hearing was normal. They also developed a significant impairment in their cognitive abilities 3.2 years sooner than those with typical hearing. Untreated hearing loss is also associated with higher incidences of heart disease, diabetes, social isolation, dementia, lower quality of life and depression.
The consequences of ignoring hearing loss appear to be endless and many times people wait to reach out for help because of stigma and denial. Waiting to get treated only makes the negative effects of hearing loss happen more quickly. So how can you help break the stigma of hearing loss?
- If you have hearing loss, treat it. Call or visit us to learn about hearing technology and improving your hearing health today!
- If you have hearing aids, wear them. There may be an adjustment period, but hearing aids help tremendously over the long run.
- Get your friends and loved ones in for a hearing evaluation. Emphasize how important it is to include a hearing check in their annual medical screening.
- Speak up about your hearing loss. Being vocal about our own hearing health issues will gradually help others through the stigma and denial.
- Show others that hearing is something to be valued. Protect your hearing and help others to protect their hearing by encouraging use of earplugs or turning down the volume.
You can be a part of the change, you can be a part of the movement to break down the stigma of hearing loss. Speak up, speak out, and always remember to be an advocate for the hearing health of you and your loved ones!