Can you think about someone in your life who has difficulty hearing?
I am sure a name (if not a few) pops up in your mind – which is no surprise considering that the World Health Organisation estimates a global number of people with hearing loss to be around 466 Million (WHO, March 2018).
How is it that the third most prevalent chronic condition in the world is getting so little attention and, when it does get attention, it is pretty negative?
Here’s your answer: our perception of hearing loss is steeped in what we saw growing up (if you grew up any time before 1990!) and this perception has ceased to evolve with the ever-changing field of technology, medicine and science in the world of Audiology. We think about that child in our classroom at school or the Grandpa or Grandma with the large beige hearing aids, instead of thinking about today’s hearing aids. Hearing aids of NOW are utterly tiny, far more effective and have outstanding sound quality. They are nothing like their pre-historic ancestors. Click here for more on today’s hearing aids.
The surprise on a patient’s face when showing them the actual size and their immediate willingness to “try them on” makes me believe that we, as hearing care professionals, need to do so much more to raise awareness about the exciting solutions that are available for people with hearing loss. More than that, once they are tried on, the sound experience is a world away from what we could do years ago, offering users a clear and distinct sound, with few limitations.
A patient who I saw recently had the following to say about her ‘new ears’:
“Hearing Aids conjure up old men in elastic-waisted trousers fiddling with wires coming out of their ears and trying to damp down the whistling sound that everyone else is forced to listen to. No one has a problem with wearing glasses but hearing aids… Uggh!
No more! Every single person I’ve told (and I’ve told EVERYBODY) that I now have hearing aids asks ‘but why aren’t you wearing them?’ I am – and I have very short hair – and they can’t believe it! People’s perceptions re hearing aids need to be changed; both of how tiny and hidden they are but more importantly how poor hearing impacts on so many other aspects of your mental health.”
The only thing most patients regret after taking the first step is not taking that step years ago.