“So, Dad, how did your hearing appointment go today?”
Laughter breaks out and soon the entire table of 12 is laughing at what they perceived as a good joke.
“No, I didn’t hear you, what did you ask?”
“WE ASKED HOW YOUR HEARING APPOINTMENT WENT TODAY!”
“Oh, it went well.”
It was my fourth meeting with this particular patient and previously we had been unsuccessful in our attempt with a trial of hearing aids. The style chosen had proven too difficult to manage and he was unable to insert and remove his hearing aids with relative ease. It doesn’t take much for a reluctant hearing aid user to throw in the towel and give up. He came back to my office after the dinner table incident and embarrassment was his primary motivation. The experience was a clear message that his hearing issues were becoming a source of humor at the family dinner table. This patriarch felt minimized and isolated, which are two very common consequences of hearing loss.
Hearing loss is a very common concern
Current statistics reveal that over 26.7 million adults have hearing loss over the age of 50 and fewer than 15% are hearing aid users. These numbers are quickly growing and hearing loss is becoming one of the most common health problems in the world.
Recent research has supported a connection between hearing loss and dementia. It has been long suspected that untreated hearing loss has had a connection with cognitive functioning, but no direct research on the topic has been available until now. With evidence showing a relationship between the severity of hearing loss and the likelihood of developing dementia, this connection is a good reminder about how important our hearing is to our overall well being.
Be realistic about hearing solutions
Although hearing aids are not a fix of our hearing, they are an important step in the process of hearing rehabilitation. Unfortunately, the public is inundated daily with propaganda through our newspapers and magazines regarding the latest and greatest technology for our ears. The advertisements often make exaggerated claims about the effectiveness of hearing aids, which can drive current hearing aid users to search for the unattainable and new hearing aid users to develop unrealistic expectations about future hearing aid use.
Proper hearing care starts with a consultation with your local Audiologist and Ear Nose and Throat physician (ENT). Before hearing aid use can begin, an Audiologist will determine your degree of hearing loss, candidacy for hearing aids and will help you to develop realistic expectations for your future use of hearing aids. An examination by an Ear Nose and Throat physician (ENT) is recommended to ensure that your hearing loss cannot be medically managed through surgery or other treatments. If the only solution remaining to manage your hearing loss is through hearing aid use, you will be provided with medical clearance to be fit with hearing aids.
Concerned about your hearing?
If you are available on May 24th between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., please join us at the Frymoyer Community Health Resource Center at Fletcher Allen to celebrate National Better Hearing and Speech month. We will be providing free hearing screenings and other resources regarding hearing and communication health.
Ryan Corry, Au. D., CCC-A is a rehabilitative audiologist with Fletcher Allen’s Community Health Improvement Office and the Vermont Department of Health.