I like to think of myself as a stereotypical laid back Southerner, but I feel the need to blow off some steam which is not usually in my nature. Why, you ask? Being an experienced hearing professional, I’ve had several recent conversations with people who aren’t hearing as well as they’d like, but have chosen not to take corrective action. They’re afraid that getting hearing devices will make them “look old.”

Before I go any further, take a little quiz for me. Let’s start with a brief exercise:

Even as a hearing health practitioner, it still manages to surprise me that the majority of people with hearing loss are under the age 65. And the reality is that, sadly, only a small portion of this large group seeks assistance for their hearing loss[3]. When someone begins to sense something is amiss with their hearing, many don’t do anything at all. At least at first. Research has shown that people will wait an average of 7-10 years to do something about their hearing loss[4]. Let’s be honest, 7 years is a long time to take action on anything! I’ve driven cars into the ground in less time.

Age is of No Importance, Unless You’re Cheese

So let’s forget about age for a minute. Besides, the only place that really matters these days is on your driver’s license, you know, for when you happen to get carded buying alcohol (wink). The important thing to understand are the signs and symptoms you may experience if you begin to develop a hearing loss. These signs may include (you can learn more about symptoms here):

  • Straining to understand a conversation (and even more so when there is background noise,)
  • Asking people to repeat themselves (or not asking them when you really want to,)
  • Having the TV a little louder than the other people in the room would prefer (so that you can understand what those actors are mumbling.)

While it’s tempting to believe that you can just get by a little longer turning things up a bit, or nodding every once in awhile so they think you are listening, you can be doing yourself a disservice in the long run. The sooner you decide to get some help – from the amplification provided by hearing aid devices – the greater your success will be with that amplification. More importantly, it can have a tremendous positive impact on both your life, and those around you.

How so, you ask? The research by the National Council on the Aging on more than 2,000 people with hearing loss, as well as their significant others, showed that hearing aids are clearly tied to “impressive improvements” in the social, emotional, psychological, and physical well-being[5]. This is relevant for those who have anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss. Specifically, the research showed that hearing loss treatment was shown to improve:
Communication in relationships
Intimacy and warmth in family relationships
Emotional stability
Sense of control over life events
Perception of mental functioning
Physical health

From Baby Boomer to Empowered Boomer

Excuse me, is my invisible hearing aid showing?

As helpful as research is, it can sometimes feel a bit abstract. What does that all mean in real life? Click here for a personal story from Mr. Jerry Baggett that puts the positive impact of hearing aids into perspective.

Now back to you, our Baby Boomer friend. If you’re sensing some degradation in your hearing as of late, the first thing to know is you’re not alone in any way. You’re part of a large and ever-growing group. Not only are there discrete solutions and new technology available that can help you, but the quality of life benefits they offer mean there’s really no reason to wait… at least until past your 65th birthday. Thanks for letting a good ol’ Southern girl blow off steam, y’all.

Sources

[1] http://www.betterhearing.org/hearingpedia/prevalence-hearing-loss
[2] http://www.hearingloss.org/content/basic-facts-about-hearing-loss
[3] Based on calculations by NIDCD Epidemiology and Statistics Program staff using data collected by (1) the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) annually for number of persons who have ever used a hearing aid [numerator], and (2) periodic NHANES hearing exams for representative samples of the U.S. adult and older adult population [denominator]; these statistics are also used for tracking Healthy People 2010 and 2020 objectives
[4] http://www.asha.org/Articles/Untreated-Hearing-Loss-in-Adults/
[5] http://www.betterhearing.org/hearingpedia/hearing-loss-treatment