As we are about to get ready for the long Thanksgiving weekend, we should take a moment to reflect on what we are truly thankful for.
I know I'm thankful for my family, friends and health. I'm also thankful for my ability to help people with hearing loss; to share my own journey and experiences of hearing loss with them.
We've come a long way in hearing technology and the benefits that it can provide to those that have hearing loss.
Hearing loss is an invisible and indiscriminate disability that affects 360 million people worldwide.
It afflicts both the young and old, the frail and strong, the rich and the poor, but it doesn't have to be something left untreated.
To help illustrate this point, one of my favorite commercials this year was produced by Duracell for Better Hearing Month in May. The two minute commercial shows a gentleman struggling with the effects of untreated hearing loss and subsequent interactions with family, co-workers and friends. I found it to be a particularly moving commercial, because it is a challenge to articulate to others what it is like to have this "invisible" disability. (Please Take a moment to watch it below)
Now, yes, it IS a battery commercial, (so that is going to be highlighted) but being an audiologist and having worn hearing instruments for over 30 years, the emotions seen in this commercial are all too accurate and experienced by millions that have hearing loss, as well as their families.
In the interest of being fair, hearing aids are not "hearing cures". Simply getting the devices isn't going to solve all of one's hearing problems overnight, but they are a good start and Communication strategies are just as important in dealing with hearing loss. I still had to train my 5 year old to ask/recognize if I "had my ears on, yet" when getting ready in the morning. The Mrs. tries not to talk to me from the other room with water running, music or the kitchen appliances on. Also, since one doesn't typically sleep with hearing instruments on, the Mrs. wakes me up a certain way if there is an emergency in the middle of the night so I know exactly what is going on and can react accordingly. We need to therefore integrate the technology with how we live our daily lives.
Now, technology has come a long way from my first devices: a set of 1984 Danavox 793 UH BTEs (beige of course and that laid hidden under my 80's bowl haircut)
32 years later, it is more than a little different and I'm fortunate enough to wear, test and evaluate many technologies that exist in the marketplace today and the advances in technology have been stunning.
We have hearing aids that are discreet, can help deal with wind, background noise and annoying whistling (feedback) in ways not seen previously. Direct streaming to hearing aids from a smartphone, and other accessories have opened up communication and ease of phone use for many that struggled with older technology. Rechargeable battery technology is even improving from previous attempts, possibly eliminating the need for replacing small batteries.
True, for many, cost has been a main concern and obstacle when it comes to acquiring hearing aids (and an entire future article can and will be dedicated to this topic),but I like to use the following example to frame the cost of the devices a little differently.
A pack of cigarettes in Colorado costs $5.65. A Starbucks Venti Cafe Latte in Colorado is $3.65
The Daily AVG Cost for top of the line Hearing aids: $3.72*
(*This assumes conservative 5 year life cycle at a price of $6,800 a pair.)
How much do you pay for your service plan for your phone? Divide that monthly bill into daily amounts and it can also be between $2-$4 dollars a day.
There are also payment plans available to help make the costs more affordable and manageable as well. It is indeed an investment, but the costs of not treating the hearing loss may be higher. (HL & Income) & (Untreated HL in Adults)
So, as we gather our friends, family and loved ones around us this Thanksgiving, what is the price we put on their companionship, engaging in conversation or laughter? As the video above helps show, it may just be priceless.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
References & Credits:
"Thankful & Grateful" Photo <a href="http://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background">Background vector designed by Katemangostar - Freepik.com</a>
"Happy Thanksgiving" Photo
<a href="http://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background">Background vector designed by Ibrandify - Freepik.com</a>
Duracell Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5znMZ_2w6c
Photo of Man with silver Widex Fusion RIC hearing aid on and Widex Passion RIC inset: http://www.widex.com/
WHO Global Estimates on HL: http://www.who.int/pbd/deafness/WHO_GE_HL.pdf
Communication Tips: http://www.hearingloss.org/content/living-hearing-loss
Rechargeable Battery Technology (From Signia): https://pro.signiausa.com/cellion-rechargeable-hearing-aid-from-signia/
Costs of Untreated Hearing Loss: