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Hearing Loss And The Breakdown Of Communication

Back in 1927, May became known as Better Hearing and Speech Month; in 1986 President Ronald Reagan made it official by issuing a formal proclamation designating May the official month to “heighten public awareness” about hearing loss and speech disorders.

Currently, about 20 percent of adults in the United States, or about 48 million people, report some degree of hearing loss. About 60 percent of the people with hearing loss are either in the work force or in educational settings. At age 65, one out of three people has a hearing loss. And according to the NIH, among adults aged 70 and older with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than one in three (30 percent) has ever used them. Even fewer adults aged 20 to 69 (approximately 16 percent) who could benefit from wearing hearing aids have ever used them.

Because hearing loss causes a breakdown in communication, it impacts both people in the communication process. When hearing loss is present, the work of communication is increased for both people. The person with hearing loss needs to focus, pay attention, lip read, interpret body language and use contextual cues. The other person needs to raise their voice, repeat themselves, ensure they have the listener’s attention, “run interference” or compensate for the person with hearing loss, and much more.

Hearing loss impacts not only the ability to hear environmental sounds such as bird songs or the crackle of a fire, it impacts one’s ability to communicate and can raise many deep emotions. Some people report feeling stupid, tired, sad or even lethargic. These feelings cause people to withdraw from social situations and from regular activities involving others. It can lead to low self esteem, exhaustion and even depression. With a decrease in activities, overall health can be negatively impacted. Studies have linked untreated hearing loss effects to:

  • irritability, negativism and anger.
  • fatigue, tension, stress and depression.
  • avoidance or withdrawal from social situations.
  • social rejection and loneliness.
  • reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety.
  • impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks.
  • reduced job performance and earning power.
  • diminished psychological and overall health.

While 48 million Americans have hearing loss, only 20% seek help. This year for Better Hearing Month, get your baseline hearing evaluation, not just a screening. By the age of 40 everyone should have a baseline evaluation. The information from a diagnostic baseline evaluation is necessary to track future changes in hearing. For more information, talk with an audiologist.

Brought to you by your friends at Total Hearing Care. If you have a question, or to schedule an appointment, call them at 302-330-7444.

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