Every May, for the past 75 years, the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) dedicates an entire month to raising awareness about communication disorders such as hearing loss. For 2019, their theme is “Communication Across the Lifespan,” drawing attention to the importance of treating communication disorders from early life up to old age.
Hearing loss is an important communication disorder to tackle. Nearly 37 million Americans suffer from hearing loss, but it usually takes 7 years before they decide to treat it. ASHA sees good hearing health as an important way to the connection with those around you. We hope that the following article will help you or someone in your family put the spotlight on your own hearing health this month, and seek treatment if you feel it is necessary.
Journalist’s story of hearing loss treatment a wake-up call to other millennials with hearing loss
Adam Felman is a writer for Medical News Today who wrote recently about his experience using hearing aids for the first time. He sought treatment for his own hearing loss after researching information for a list of articles on deafness and hearing loss for the medical news site. At the time of documenting his experiences wearing the hearing aids, he had only been wearing them for 2 days, but they have already had a huge impact on his life.
He has noticed how much more connected he is with the world around him. And even in a short time, he is stunned by how they have improved his quality of life, and is excited by the prospect of wearing them for years to come: “I cannot wait to stick these bad boys in upon waking up tomorrow and seeing what else I can discover for the first time.”
Almost immediately, he has noticed the improvements in his balances and spatial awareness. Crucially, this has made everyday tasks much more seamless. But when he removes his hearing aids, that’s when he notices how much more draining it is without them.
“My hearing no longer feels impaired — that is, until I remove the hearing aids. Those few moments in the day without them, such as going to the gym or grabbing a shower, are now pretty draining by comparison.”
After reading so much about the stigma of hearing aids and how they discourage those with hearing loss from seeking treatment, Felman has been surprised by the outpouring of support from his family and finds. “Everyone has been congratulating me as if I’ve just become a parent for the first time,” he beams.
Although hearing aids are normally the preserve of older adults, Felman is still only 30 years old. As young person still actively going to noisy places like clubs, bars and live music venues, he has had much first-hand experience of the social embarrassment of hearing loss
“I’ve forgotten what it’s like to chat with a friend at a concert or even a bar. Very often, I will have great difficulty separating conversational frequencies from noises in the environment, making it almost impossible to fully focus on what people are saying.”
As a result of these difficulties in communicating with others, Felman resorted to what many do in this situation: social bluffing. Out of the embarrassment of not being able to hear his friends, he began to switch between a series of phrases which he used to respond to friends, dependent on the tone of voice and context.
“I can fully understand that.”
“Tell me about it!”
Although these phrases might sound normal in a conversation, they didn’t facilitate further conversation and left an awkwardness in the room. Now he is armed with his devices, his ability to communicate in these places has improved drastically.
Millennials also need to take care of their hearing
Felman is fully aware of the importance of hearing as he enters his 30s. Entering a more responsible stage in his life, it is important for him to maintain his ability to communicate with others. Not taking care of this can have a detrimental effect on how he sees himself as he navigates these life challenges. He urges others to check their hearing and get help before their hearing loss becomes severe.
Rather than a device which debilitates, he sees hearing aids as an opportunity to improve connections with the world around them. Other millennials with hearing loss are urged to treat it before it becomes too severe, so that they can experience the benefits that improved hearing can offer to their quality of life.
Celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month with Evergreen Audiology
Hearing loss affects people of all ages, but the good news is that treatment options are available! If you feel you might have hearing loss, a hearing test will go a long way towards bringing peace of mind. Schedule an appointment with us at Evergreen Audiology today!