Are Audiologists From Mars?

Sometimes it feels like audiologists are from Mars and their patients are from Venus. Audiologists want to sell hearing aids, but people with hearing loss want complete hearing solutions. Audiologists have limited time to spend with each person, while consumers have a large number of questions. For audiologists, hearing loss is all in a day’s work, but for us, it is a life-altering and emotional experience.

How can we get the two groups on the same page in order to provide a more productive patient experience for both? I hope that by sharing my hearing loss journey, we can take steps towards doing just that.

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Do You Know Your Hearing Loss Facts?

People are often surprised how common hearing loss is — 360 million people worldwide which includes almost 50 million in the United States alone. Hearing loss is not only for the old, but now impacts 1 in 5 teenagers and 60% of returning soldiers. It is associated with dangerous health conditions such as dementia, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Hearing loss is a tremendous and growing health crisis. Be sure you know the facts so you can help educate others.

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With Hearing Loss Louder Isn’t Always Better

I attended a fundraiser for Hearing Health Foundation a few years ago where Cyndi Lauper performed. At first, I was surprised at the choice of a rocker. Wouldn’t the music be too loud? Was that the kind of message a hearing loss organization should send? My worry was misplaced. The volume level was fun, but also safe, and Cyndi put on a great show.

I’m not sure Cyndi knew what to make of the reduced volume level though. “I don’t know why they asked me to play the music so quietly,” she said to the crowd in all seriousness, “since they can’t hear well, I thought they would ask me to play it louder!”

This statement made me laugh out loud, especially since she delivered it in her characteristic accent and style, but it has stayed with me all these years, because it is such a common misnomer — that making something louder solves all hearing problems. With hearing loss, louder is not always better.

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Hearing Loss: Stand Up And Be Counted

It is exciting to see hearing loss getting more attention. I recently wrote about the groundbreaking report from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) which declared hearing loss “a significant public health concern” and made a series of recommendations for “institutional, technological and regulatory change to enable consumers to find and fully use the appropriate, affordable, and high-quality services, technologies, and support they need.” You can read that post here.

Several members of the NAS report team were at the most recent HLAA Convention, and each encouraged the sponsors of the report to work together to spur action. “Without implementation of the recommendations,” one of the NAS team commented, “the report is not worth much more than the paper it is written upon.” I left the Convention feeling a growing sense of urgency from the attendees as well as the leaders in the industry that now is the time to make change happen.

I am happy to see Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) taking a first step to raise awareness of these issues with a petition at change.org entitled People with Hearing Loss: Join HLAA in the Fight for Affordable Hearing Health Care.” 

Now it is up to those of us with hearing loss to stand up and be counted. I encourage you to sign the petition to show support for more affordable hearing health care. You can also leave a comment on the site to explain why this issue is important to you. Please share the link with others who might want to sign too.

There is strength in numbers. Let’s show ours. Sign the petition here.

Thank you for taking the time to stand up and be counted.

Living With Hearing Loss - A Hearing Loss Blog

Becoming a Hearing Health Advocate in Midlife

I am proud to be featured on Next Act For Women, a wonderful website about reinvention in midlife, discussing my transformation into a hearing health advocate. 

In a wide-ranging interview, Hélène asks me about my background growing up, my family life and why I left my career in finance to become a hearing health advocate. I talk about what drives my passion for helping others with hearing loss and why I started this blog. 

And there are pictures — of me as a child up through today. Please enjoy this personal story of my transformation. I hope it inspires you to find your own. 

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Growing up in a household where her father’s genetic hearing loss was treated as shameful made it hard for Shari to confront her own progressive hearing issues as an adult. She now seeks to educate people about living with hearing loss and to create a community for others with hearing loss.

Tell us a little about your background…

I grew up in New Jersey, the older of two sisters. I was always a tomboy, playing on my town’s softball team—even stealing home base once. In high school, I turned my attention to modern dance and my studies.

We were a fairly typical family, with one exception, my father’s hearing loss. It was genetic and began in midlife. As a child, I was not always aware of his problems hearing. I knew he wore hearing aids, but I didn’t see how he struggled with embarrassment and shame, hiding his hearing loss to the detriment of his career, his personal relationships, and our family life.

I do remember one time at a party when I found him sitting alone off in the corner. I asked him why, and his reply was, “If someone wants to talk to me, they can come find me.” I didn’t think much of it at the time, but now I realize that he probably found socializing in the loud room challenging and was seeking refuge from the embarrassment of trying to converse when he could not hear. I struggle with that same problem today.

To read the full interview please click here

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