Numbers of course fail to capture the emotional impact that specifics do. It is a common truism that history’s greatest tragedies happen on scales beyond our comprehension, but we might be more moved to take whatever preventative actions we could if we could humanize these tragedies to a more personal scale.
But consider these tragic statistics. Less than one out of every five people with disabling hearing loss seeks and sustains an appropriate treatment plan. All kinds of factors lead to this public health catastrophe, most commonly perhaps that hearing loss comes on so gradually that most people literally fail to notice or comprehend that it is coming on.
But perhaps you can read this sad statistic about over 80% of everyone with hearing loss doing so without adequate care and not feel moved because you assume that hearing loss only affects the elderly or at least no one that you have ever known. And it is true that congenital hearing loss is indeed rare. Less than three out of every 1,000 births in the U.S. result in hearing loss. And maybe you have seen people who are deaf or hard of hearing in the movies but have never met someone like that. But this characterization in popular culture represents only the rarest of cases in real life.
In fact, around 14% of the U.S. population aged 18 and over suffers from some detectable degree of disabling hearing loss. This percentage increases steadily with age. Nearly 1/3 of everyone aged 65 and older has hearing loss. Incredibly, more than half of everyone aged 75 and above lives with it.
Remember that first tragic statistic, less than 20% of these people get through it with suitable treatment. Now consider what it means to minimize the effects that hearing loss will have on your life. More often than not, hearing loss inspires people to withdraw socially. And remember, they probably do not recognize that they are suffering from hearing loss. All they know, subconsciously, is that they are expending more mental energy to follow conversations in public spaces with background noise and the frustration that they are feeling is gradually beginning to outweigh the pleasure that socializing brings them. Social withdrawal leads to loneliness and loneliness leads to depression. Depression creates a cycle of increasing frustration and confusion, which leads to confusion and even cognitive decline.
Too statistical and vague to understand the emotional toll still? Obviously, many cases of hearing loss go unreported, but we know that the population of the United States is about 330 million people. About 75% of these people are 18 years old or older. That is 247.5 million people. About 14% of these people suffer from hearing loss. That is almost 35 million people. And 80% of these people do so without care. That is around 28 million people in the U.S. alone enduring the maddening cycle described above.
All Kinds of Relationships are Impacted
The Americans Disabilities Act put many protections in place to ensure the rights of the disabled in all aspects of public life. But if the majority of people who suffer from hearing loss fail to recognize that it is coming on, consider all the professional opportunities squandered because someone is having trouble following a conversation. This person is likely to even be able to construct the conversation through context clues, but the extra energy slows them down. That professional relationship is at a disadvantage.
Consider what friendship is truly based on. As we become more and more intimate with someone, we laugh together and we share secrets. Jokes depend on nuanced timing that is thrown off when either party has trouble following the conversation. Secrets depend on hushed tones. As hearing loss increases, our ability to connect easily and naturally with friends diminishes, no matter how long we may have felt close before and how deeply the bonds had been previously established.
And given the statistics above explaining who exactly suffers from hearing loss, consider the challenges posed to grandparents and grandchildren. It is exactly when the elderly most need their families, as their professional and social lives often decrease, that the familial bonds are most frequently tested. The challenge of bonding between a grandparent and grandchild is a two-way street, as all communication.
Do not wait another day. Make an appointment with one of our trained specialists to start maximizing the potential of all your relationships today. Hearing loss is permanent and irreversible, but proper treatment improves all your relationships and prevents all this potential trouble.