Industry statistics indicate that approximately 30 million people in the U.S. have a hearing loss, yet only around 6 million wear hearing aids. There are various reasons why so many people that need help don’t seek to find the solution. Some are:
Denial – Research suggests that people wait an average of 7 years from the time they should get help with their hearing until they actually do so. It’s not uncommon for people suffering from hearing loss to insist that other people are simply mumbling, or misplace the blame on a lack of attention.
Knowledge is power. You should get your hearing tested whenever you or the people around you notice some communication difficulties. Often your friends and family notice problems before you do. When you don’t hear them, it’s more frustrating to them than it is to you.
Stigma – Most people don’t want others to know they have a hearing loss for fear they’ll be perceived as growing old or less of a person.
Your hearing loss is more conspicuous than a hearing aid would be. If you constantly ask people to repeat themselves, they get frustrated and stop trying to communicate with you. If you tend to smile and nod, those around you may not recognize that you’re having trouble hearing. If you often answer inappropriately based on your misunderstanding the question, they may think you are suffering from dementia.
Bad Press – Negative news reports about a small number of “bad eggs” have tarnished the hearing aid industry and made people afraid to seek help.
Crackdowns by consumer groups and the government have helped to weed out some of the problems in the industry. Hearing aid companies and audiologists are more aware than ever of their social responsibilities. The government has made it clear any claims made about a product must be substantiated. Additionally, more so than with other products, consumers are typically given a better opportunity to try out hearing aids and determine their effectiveness before committing to a purchase.
Need Not Recognized – Most people who have a hearing loss tend to feel it’s not a big deal even when it’s obvious to those around them. They may feel that others are not speaking clearly enough or dismiss the importance of what was said.
This is a hard one because hearing loss is so insidious. It sneaks up on you over the years and it’s not as obvious as loss of visual acuity. You need to look for signs that your hearing isn’t up to par, such as:
-Misunderstanding someone without realizing it until after the fact
-Hearing well in a conversation with one person, but not as well in a group setting
-Hearing without fully understanding
-Having more difficulty hearing the voices of women or children
-Your spouse often says you have trouble understanding him or her
-You feel left out in group settings because you’re not following the conversation
Hearing Aids Don’t Help – This is too common of a belief, even among some medical professionals who relay this false information to their patients. Dissatisfaction with hearing aids is frequently a result of the fit, programming, or type of hearing aid being incompatible with a patient’s individual needs and goals. A qualified, knowledgeable, and caring hearing healthcare professional can remedy this.
Technology has advanced tremendously in recent years. While no one can make you hear like you once did there are many products that can really help. The key is to find the right instrument and a well-trained audiologist in order to best solve your specific complaints.