The New York TIme’s Jane Brody writes about the high cost of hearing loss in Hearing Loss Costs Far More Than Ability to Hear.
Brody’s post focuses on a psychologist, Mark Hammel, who addressed his hearing loss by (finally) getting hearing aids. Dr. Hammel provides insights into how hearing loss inflicts real and profound costs on sufferers, many of whom become socially isolated as a result of their condition. But the post highlights the other costs as well, noting that “30 to 48 million Americans have hearing loss that significantly diminishes the quality of their lives — academically, professionally and medically as well as socially.” Brody adds that hearing loss can affect physical health (e.g., increased risk of dementia, stress, fatigue), as well as create safety and financial risks. And those around the hearing impaired suffer as well, as “[m]any who are hard of hearing don’t realize how distressing it is to family members, who typically report feeling frustrated, annoyed and sad as a consequence of communication difficulties and misunderstandings.”
Loud noise causes hearing loss, a preventable medical problem that will continue until and unless people understand the consequences of ignoring it. The first step to implementing protections against excessive noise is getting poeple to recognize the real and significant costs to the sufferer, his or her family and friends, and society as a whole. Kudos to Brody for her thoughtful post.
Thanks to Daniel Fink, M.D., a noise pollution activist in the Los Angeles area, for the link. Dr. Fink serves on the board of the American Tinnitus Association.
10/07/2015 Update: Brody follows through with a companion piece that discusses the literal cost of hearing loss in The Hurdles to Getting Hearing Aids. Among other things, Brody notes that while a failure to recognize hearing loss is one reason why people do not get hearing aids when needed, “the more important reason people fail to get hearing aids when they are needed is the cost, which is rarely covered by insurance and not at all by Medicare, unless the device is for a child.” Given that the cost for one hearing aid (and most people need two) range from about $1,200 to $2,800, it’s clear that the high cost of hearing aids keeps them out of the hands of the people who made need them the most.