Persons with impaired hearing should be encouraged by family members to seek appropriate treatment

Recent data arising out of the Better Hearing Institute's "MarkeTrak" national study demonstrates that hearing loss is prevalent, serious, and often denied by the sufferer. The information revealed suggests that family members of the hearing impaired should actively encourage their loved ones to address their hearing problem, an effort which will greatly benefit both the hard of hearing and their kin.

The research indicates that "over the last generation, the hearing loss population grew at the rate of 160% of US population growth primarily due to the aging of America." On this side of the border, the Hearing Foundation of Canada estimates that 3 million Canadians have hearing loss, and that it is the 4th most prevalent disability in Canada after mobility, pain and agility.

Hearing loss must be considered a serious medical condition since the untreated are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, paranoia, emotional turmoil, and anti-social behaviour. "The prevalence of hearing loss is predicted to rise significantly because of an aging population and the growing use of personal listening devices," states Dr. Yuri Agrawal in the study, "there is concern that we may be facing an epidemic of hearing impairment."

Unfortunately, addressing hearing loss is complicated by many barriers imposed by the sufferer. The most widespread obstacle to healthy hearing is denial ("my hearing isn't bad enough" or "I can get along without one"), followed by consumer concerns ("they are too expensive" or "I don't trust hearing specialists"), and finally vanity ("it would make me feel old" or "I don't like the way they look").

Because of this, "families should be aware of and alert to the potential consequences of untreated hearing loss as well as the benefits of using hearing aids," declared the National Council on Aging in a 1999 study. "Family members who suspect that a relative has a hearing loss should actively encourage the person to seek appropriate screening, diagnostics, and treatment."

Jeff Geigel, President of Canada's Lifestyle Hearing Network, states that "hearing aid users usually report significant improvements in their lives once they begin using the devices." As depicted above, over half reported better relationships at home and improved feelings about themselves. Many also reported improvements in their confidence, independence, relations with children and grandchildren, and view about life overall. Within every measure, family members of the hard of hearing were even more likely to report improvements.




The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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