Hearing Loss, the Silent Epidemic

Hearing loss is at epidemic proportions in this country.

The Hearing Loss Association of America says 48 million Americans have significant hearing loss. Fifty million have tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and 90% of those also have hearing loss. Both are among the most common service-related conditions in veterans.

Noise in our general environment is major, like traffic, loud music from vehicles, horns blowing, or lawn mowers. The workplace, concert hall, stadium noise may all be too loud for our ears. Hearing loss is no longer just a problem of old age, although it is the third most prevalent health issue for older adults, after heart disease and arthritis.

Does your church offer assistive listening devices? Often ministers know that too many in their congregation cease to attend church services because they can’t hear. But assistive devices make a crucial difference when offered.

It is not easy to do what is theoretically possible as an individual with hearing loss. Isolation leads to such issues as falls, depression and possibly even dementia, but hearing aids remain hideously expensive. Only 20% of those who can benefit from a hearing aid wear one, HLAA says. Cost is not the only problem. Congress has just passed a law allowing hearing aids (not just the so-called personal amplification devices available now) to be sold over the counter.

In North Carolina, if you work but have low income, you may be entitled to two hearing aids through Vocational Rehabilitation, located at 8 Barbetta Drive in Asheville; phone (828) 670-3377. And, if you don’t work, you may be able to get a hearing aid through the State’s Division of Services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, whose office is at 12 Barbetta Drive in Asheville, NC; phone (828) 665-8733. If you want to stay in touch with developments you can visit HLAA’s website, hearingloss.org.

Here’s how you can help

The Asheville’s Chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America meets most third Saturdays of the month at 10.15 a.m. at Care Partners, 68 Sweeten Creek Road. Information is sent out monthly too. We’d like to add you to our mailing list and would be pleased to see you at meetings. We can also arrange to talk with members of your community, church, or organization. Let us help you get the services you need.

 

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