As many extended families prepare to gather for the holidays for the first time since the pandemic began, experts at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) are offering advice on how to help loved ones who are hard of hearing more fully participate in these celebrations.
More than 48 million Americans have hearing loss. A recent national poll from ASHA and YouGov found that almost half of American adults (46%) say they have a close family member or other loved one who has difficulty hearing. And although untreated hearing loss is associated with poorer quality of life as well as an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia, depression, falls, and a host of other serious conditions, many adults do not seek treatment for years, even decades—if ever.
While this will no doubt be a joyous time for relatives to reconnect after missing many holidays together due to COVID-19, some may notice a loved one is having more difficulty understanding others or following the conversation—or perhaps seeming more withdrawn than the last time they were together. These are tell-tale signs of hearing loss. Families can help these loved ones better enjoy important celebrations—and can be an integral voice in encouraging them to seek help for their hearing loss.
For those who reported having hearing trouble, the biggest barrier to their accessing help was their denial of the seriousness involved and inaction toward receiving care. Too many indicated they were content to get by with some degree of hearing loss, and too many others said they would only seek help if their hearing problems became “severe”—and possibly more difficult and more expensive to treat.
The National Association for Hearing and Speech Action (NAHSA), the consumer affiliate of ASHA, is dedicated to educating the public about their hearing health among other aspects of human communication. NAHSA is encouraging television stations to help bring this important message to their viewers via our Act Now on Hearing PSA campaign, which will run until October 31, 2022.
In a family gathering (birthday celebration) setting that people can easily identify with, the animated PSA conveys in a creative, succinct, and encouraging way the importance of acting on one’s hearing health before it is too late. The PSA is available in English and Spanish.
For more information, visit www.ActNowOnHearing.com.
SOURCE: National Association for Hearing and Speech Action (NAHSA)
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