May is Better Hearing & Speech Month, an important milestone for our ear, nose, and throat practice here in Anchorage. And this year, we want to put the focus squarely on encouraging people to experience hearing fully again.
It’s Time to Move Beyond Awareness
Every year since 1927, it’s been the same story: Information arrives in droves via the newspaper, mail, and media promoting hearing health. This raises awareness about hearing loss — but it hasn’t compelled people to take action. In fact, the average is about 5 years from the time an individual goes through the stages of denial to acceptance of hearing loss, and then another 2 years before making that step toward a better quality of life by using hearing devices.
With all the proven studies over the years showing the importance of early detection and treatment, why do people still avoid treatment and hearing aids?
I’ve been wondering about that for the 24 years I’ve been in this field in Anchorage, until recently the answer flashed right in front of my face: It’s simply because they can.
The stigma of big old clunkers hanging over people’s ears whistling like crazy as the volume wheel gets cranked up and down is understandable, but devices like these no longer exist. Today’s devices are hardly even noticeable, and they’re automatic. Most patients don’t see mine until I bring it up.
Cost objections are no longer valid, either, as devices with high-end technology features are now available at the entry-level price points. Issues of fumbling with batteries or not being able to use cellphones have been resolved, too.
So why is it that only about 20% of the hearing-impaired are wearing devices? That number hasn’t changed much since tracking began in the 1980s. As it turns out, the answer isn’t complex at all: People will simply say, “It’s not bad enough yet.” But when the spouse or family member sitting next to them gives us an eye roll or shakes their head, we know the real answer. Still, the fact remains that they believe their hearing loss isn’t a priority, and they feel they’re functioning just fine.
ACENT Offers a Free Demo Program
Hearing loss is a gradual decline in most cases, which means that it’s almost always someone else who notices it before the person themselves. The TV gets a little louder, the “What?” at the restaurant is said more often, and people have to talk louder and closer. And that’s human nature. The only way to change it is to let patients experience what hearing properly is really like.
At ACENT, we do just that with our demo program. Once the hearing test is finished, devices are programmed to the loss and patients take them home for a week or so with no fee. This gives patients the opportunity, in a real-world setting, to see what they’ve been missing and how the hearing loss was affecting their family and friends.
Sure, most people can “live with” their hearing loss, but why would anyone want to if there’s an improvement to the quality of life?
May is the perfect time to take the mission of Better Hearing & Speech Month to heart. It’s a much better idea than waiting 7 years, don’t you think? Contact us this month to take part.