Each year, the concerned experts within the communication disorder arena sponsor a month-long awareness campaign. The American Speech-Hearing-Language Association (ASHA) is made up of members from the field, including audiologists, speech-language pathologists, communications scientists, support staff and students. Immersed daily in the work of communication advocacy, they strive to connect people with the tools and structures that help them flourish.
This year’s theme, Connecting People, aims to do exactly that. Among other ways of normalizing therapies and solutions, ASHA wants to connect you with the knowledge you need to find a healthier hearing life.
Connecting people to their hearing health
Culturally, we are fairly disconnected from our hearing health. While most people acknowledge that healthy hearing is an integral component of a vibrant life, we don’t back that up through our habits. While a majority of people have had their eyes examined in the past five years, less than twenty percent have had a hearing exam, as revealed by a 2021 study conducted by ASHA.
A lack of treatment for hearing loss
Beyond avoiding hearing exams, we also delay or completely avoid treatment once hearing loss does appear. The average hearing aid wearer waits ten years before choosing to intervene and while the National Institutes of Health estimate that almost thirty million people would benefit from wearing hearing aids, less than thirty percent choose to do so.
Who lives with untreated hearing loss?
Age continues to be the largest predictor of hearing loss because the aging process is one of the leading causes of challenged hearing. The largest group to experience hearing loss are people over the age of 65. One in three people live with hearing loss in that demographic and the ratio expands as we age. When we blow out the candles on our 80th birthday cake, half of our peers will have debilitating hearing loss.
Age-related hearing loss happens when the sensitive inner ear cells suffer damage or decline over time. Noise-induced hearing loss, when these cells are damaged due to excessive noise exposure, can also unfold over time as repeated exposure has cumulative effects on our hearing.
The disadvantages that come with untreated hearing loss
While it might seem that delaying hearing loss treatment impacts just a small slice of your life, the truth is that our hearing is connected to many facets of our health. Inherently, healthy hearing helps us connect with other people in the world. As humans, we are wired for connection with others and even the lone wolves among us have a few pack members.
As hearing becomes effortful and frustrating, we tend to scale back our interactions with others. It makes sense, we are also adaptable creatures and can make these slight adjustments in our behavior at a subconscious level.
As we cope with isolating behaviors, we lose our connections with loved ones and relationship problems are often reported by people with hearing loss. As our condition progresses, depression can also result along with other mental and emotional issues.
The benefits of treating hearing loss
When we choose to confront hearing loss, we can regain our autonomy, our sense of self, in the world so that we are less dependent on others. At the same time, we are able to rekindle our connection within our closest relationships. Most hearing aid wearers report improved relationships as an outcome of treatment.
We also get to experience the fleeting moments of connection with our acquaintances and even strangers that add so much flavor to our lives.
Treating hearing loss has been shown to lessen symptoms of depression and even decrease the risk of dementia.
Schedule a hearing consultation
If you’re ready to find more connection to your hearing health, schedule a hearing consultation today. ASHA recommends that healthy adults over the age of 18 should have a simple hearing exam every three to five years, regardless of their hearing experience. And if you do have symptoms of hearing loss, see an audiologist right away.
Our team of hearing health experts will guide you through the process of a hearing exam and counsel you about your results while leading you to options for optimum hearing.