By W.L. “Hunter” Huntley, III, BC-HIS –
Hearing loss is our nation’s #1 handicapping disability. Over 35 million Americans have some form of hearing impairment. Approximately 1 out of 10 people in the country are in need of some form of hearing assistance.
The good news is hearing technology has never been better! The first thing an individual should do is have a complete hearing evaluation. The Better Hearing Institute recommends hearing exams annually when 55 years of age or older; or sooner if you suspect there may be a problem. The earlier a problem is diagnosed, the more likely it can be overcome. A recent study by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in conjunction with the National Institute on Aging concluded that high blood pressure, heart disease, and hearing loss left untreated lead to further serious complications.
Untreated Hearing Loss Can Develop Into Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
Common side effects of hearing loss left untreated are feelings of isolation, loneliness, and a loss of self-worth. More importantly, untreated hearing problems in both men and women are much more likely to develop Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Those with mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop Dementia and Alzheimer’s. People with severe hearing loss are five times as likely to develop some form of Dementia and Alzheimer’s. This is due to lack of stimulation to the portion of the brain that interprets speech. Over time, the brain will forget how to interpret certain sounds due to lack of “proper” stimulation. Hearing devices will not completely restore all of a person’s hearing, but individuals should “expect substantial benefits.” according to Sergei Kochkin, who is the head of the Better Hearing Institute.
Digital Hearing Devices Offer the Best Technology
Digital hearing devices are now the best technology there has ever been! Unlike older technology (analog), digital devices are “prescription fitted” to each individual’s particular hearing loss; like eyeglasses. Unlike your vision, when an individuals hearing changes, digital devices can be re-programmed on a computer to compensate for the deterioration instead of having to buy more powerful devices. This means hearing devices are purchased with less frequency than in the past.
Automatic Telephone Response Feature
Most new digital devices feature automatic telephone response, allowing the hearing device wearer to put the phone up to the ear without having to take their device out. In the past, hearing instrument wearers would either have to remove the device or get an annoying squeal.
Directional microphones are beneficial, especially in the presence of background noise. When background noises reach a certain decibel level, directional microphones engage automatically focusing on sounds in front of the hearing device wearer
without picking up unwanted sounds from behind them. One example where these really help is a noisy or crowded restaurant.
Multi-Memory Option Optimizes Performance
Multi-memory is another option which allows the hearing instrument wearer to change the settings of their devices (louder or softer), depending upon their listening environment, with a simple push of a button. This helps to optimize the performance of the instruments in various situations.
Hearing instrument technology continues to grow by leaps and bounds. However, unless you try them, you will never know what you’ve been missing.
Leonardi Hearing Center