HHTM readers, we have the pleasure of bringing you Jesse Botella, with a unique spin on a topic confronted by many providers on a daily basis in the Hearing Health World.
I know what you’re thinking: What can someone with normal hearing possibly say about hearing loss? Surely he can’t contribute anything new to the discussion. Primary sources are always better than secondary sources, right? Well, maybe you are right. But it never hurts to hear (or read) what other people have to say about something they have never experienced—a new perspective, if you will.
I don’t have any friends or family who are deaf or are experiencing serious symptoms of hearing loss. There is always the chance, however, that I’m simply oblivious to it. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that my perception of hearing loss has always been that people merely can’t hear well and…that’s basically it. All they need is a funny-looking thing hanging from their ear and that would resolve the issue. In other words, hearing loss means you can’t hear and you need hearing aids. Pretty simple.
Of course, hearing loss is more complex than that.
I was recently hired to work for a company that specializes in providing consultations for people who are experiencing signs of hearing loss. Needless to say, I was immediately thrust into the world of all things hearing. The multifaceted nature of hearing loss amazed (and overwhelmed) me: degrees of hearing loss and its accompanying effects, hearing tests, audiograms, hearing aids, etc. Slowly but surely, the literature I was reading began to chip away at my preconceived notions of what it’s like for someone to be hard of hearing.
Based on my readings, I have put together four basic, yet significant, facts related to hearing loss and hearing aids that I believe everyone should know:
- Hearing loss is not simply the inability to hear: Hearing is a natural human sense; listening, on the other hand, is a skill. People with hearing loss may be able to “hear,” but have a hard time listening and understanding. When a person’s ability to hear deteriorates, so does speech intelligibility. This could make a normal conversation exhausting for the hearing loss sufferer and annoying for the conversation partner.
- Hearing loss is more noticeable than you think: A person may not notice he/she is experiencing some form of hearing loss—but the people around them do notice. An individual with hearing loss constantly adjusts the volume on their TV, has people repeat what they just said multiple times, and thinks that their conversation partner mumbles. What is important to note is that friends and family will sometimes notice these symptoms before the person with hearing loss does.
- Hearing aids are actually pretty cool: Okay, on the “coolness” scale, hearing aids are probably at the very bottom. However, today’s hearing aids are very advanced! Some of these devices operate intuitively, adapt to a person’s lifestyle, and are controllable via a smartphone app. Moreover, the look and feel of hearing aids is impressive. They can be worn directly in the ear or discreetly behind the ear. No matter the style, modern hearing aids are high-tech and very comfortable to wear, making them pretty cool in my book.
- Hearing aids are a worthy investment: The old adage, “you get what you pay for,” applies to just about anything—including hearing aids. People spend a lot of money on items they don’t really need (e.g. smartphones, expensive TVs and other electronic devices), so why not spend it on a product that improves your hearing and overall health? Hearing aids range from $800 to $3,100 (depending on the specific hearing aid system a customer chooses). Hearing aids provide an excellent return on investment. For instance, 81% of hearing aid users report that their devices are positively impacting their relationships, work performance, general ability to communicate, overall quality of life, and ability to participate in group activities.
With all that being said, everyone should have some familiarity with hearing loss and the treatments that are available; the aforementioned points are a good place to start. In writing this article, my hope is that I would be able to provide insight from one who had no knowledge until recently about hearing loss, to an audience that has little or no exposure to any information on hearing loss and hearing aids. If you are someone with hearing loss or are familiar with the topic, please feel free to share this with your less-informed loved ones. Why is this important? Because, as Helen Keller once said, “Blindness separates people from things; deafness separates people from people.” I would add that ignorance can also separate us. The best way to prevent this separation is to be informed, compassionately address the issue, and always remember to empathize with your fellow neighbor who is exhibiting signs of hearing loss.
Jesse Botella currently works as a copywriter for hear.com, located in Miami, Florida. When he’s not writing about the benefits of modern hearing aids, he’s usually reading a good book, spending time with his wife and son (his Yorkie, Troy), or enjoying a delicious cafecito from his favorite Cuban restaurant.
Feature Image from Holistic Health