(BPT) - Family and friends might be softly hinting that you need your hearing checked. But can you hear them? See if you're experiencing one of the following 5 signs that it may be time to talk about hearing loss with a hearing health professional.
1.) You've been approached by a family member about your hearing loss
A recent survey found that nearly half of Americans - 46 percent - know someone with hearing loss or difficulty hearing, and 64 percent have had a conversation with that person about it. Further, 83 percent of respondents said they would feel comfortable talking with someone they knew if they thought they may be experiencing difficulty hearing, signaling a potential shift in overcoming the stigma that has traditionally surrounded hearing loss.
Compared to one in five adults (22 percent) who said they would be offended if someone they knew approached them because they thought they were experiencing hearing loss or difficulty hearing, the vast majority - 78 percent - disagreed, indicating they would be open to having the conversation.
2.) You're facing a major life event and are concerned about missing out
The survey found that, faced with a major life event (e.g., marriage, birth of a child/grandchild, health scare), 66 percent of adults would be motivated to have their hearing checked if they were concerned about hearing loss.
This was the case for Sherri Ely, who participated in clinical trials for MED-EL's SYNCHRONY EAS Hearing Implant System. 'Learning I was going to be a grandmother was a turning point for me in my hearing loss journey,' said Ely. 'Six months after my implant, my first grandchild was born. Being able to talk with her and build this relationship has been a truly joyful experience.'
3.) Hearing loss has affected other areas of your life
Discussions about hearing loss often center around quality of life, for both the person with hearing loss and people in their lives. In fact, family and friends may be the first to notice social changes brought on by hearing loss.
Many people are also unaware of the connection between hearing loss and other health concerns; 45 percent of survey respondents reported that hearing loss or hearing difficulty does not affect other areas of a person's health, or that they weren't sure. Researchers have found, however, that left untreated, hearing loss has been linked to cognitive decline and dementia, particularly in older adults.
4.) You're over the age of 55
Age-related hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older and elderly adults. While age-related hearing loss is usually treatable, unfortunately, older adults are less likely to have had a conversation about hearing loss than their younger counterparts.
'The reality is, while some people might have a hard time admitting that they have a hard time hearing, most people around them notice that communication is growing more difficult,' said Barbara Weinstein, PhD, Professor and Founding Executive Officer of the Doctor of Audiology Program at the City University of New York Graduate Center. 'The first conversations surrounding hearing loss are usually with family members, particularly in the case of older adults. It's important to keep those lines of communication open.
5.) Asking people to speak louder hasn't helped
Nearly half of survey respondents believe that speaking louder when talking to someone with hearing loss or hearing difficulty helps that person hear better. But this isn't necessarily true. It depends on the type and severity of the hearing loss. Amplification can help people with mild hearing loss. However, if hearing loss is severe, turning up the volume only distorts sound.
The bottom line? Left untreated, hearing loss can affect social, emotional and physical areas of someone's life. Beyond hearing aids, treatment options like cochlear implants and EAS are available to help stay connected to the world of sound and take advantage of life's special moments - big and small. For more information, visit www.medel.com/us/betterhearing.