Fathers’ Hearing Affects Family Function and Fiscal Health
Washington, DC, June 16, 2009 –
This Father’s Day, and throughout the week leading up to it—National Men’s Health Week—the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) is urging devoted dads to take care of their families by taking care of their own health—including their hearing health. Hearing health affects every aspect of family life, including household income. BHI is offering an online hearing test (www.hearingcheck.org) where dads, and all men, can quickly and confidentially assess if they need a comprehensive hearing check by a hearing professional.
"Untreated hearing loss puts dads at a real disadvantage in the home and in the workplace," says Dr. Sergei Kochkin, BHI’s executive director. "Unaddressed hearing loss makes it tougher for dads to connect with their children and grandchildren. It heightens frustration and irritation in the home. And it undermines family relationships. What’s more, in these tough economic times, untreated hearing loss can undermine a man’s job security and performance, cut his earnings potential, and pose a barrier to employment opportunities.”
According to BHI, hearing loss affects more men than women. Six out of 10 people with hearing loss are men. And 31 million people in the United States have a hearing loss. That translates into 15 percent of baby boomers and one-in-three seniors—many of whom either have remained in or are re-entering the workforce as a result of the recession and lost retirement savings. Fortunately, 95 percent of hearing loss is treatable with hearing aids.
According to a BHI national study—“Impact of Hearing Loss on Household Income"—Americans with unaddressed hearing loss make less money than people with normal hearing. But the study also found that wearing a hearing aid reduces the amount of income lost. Specifically, untreated hearing loss negatively affects household income, on average, by up to $23,000 per year depending on the degree of hearing loss. But the use of hearing aids mitigates those negative effects by about 50 percent.
According to the International Listening Association (ILA), listening is one of the top skills employers seek in those being promoted. And individual performance in an organization is found to be directly related to listening ability or perceived listening effectiveness.
“Untreated hearing loss can affect virtually every aspect of a father’s life,” says Kochkin. “It often leads to a sense of isolation, and to considerable negative social, psychological, cognitive and health effects that go well beyond hearing alone. What’s more, untreated hearing loss can make family time far more difficult and frustrating for dads and for the entire family.”
Kochkin urges fathers—for the sake of their families—to be honest with themselves about hearing loss. To stay at the top of their game in today’s tough job market, and to stay close with their families at home, this Father’s Day dads across America should be asking themselves these questions:
- When someone asks me a question, do I frequently have to ask them to repeat it?
- Do I ever have to strain to hear a question?
- Do I feel that people are mumbling a lot?
- If someone is not looking directly at me when they speak, does it make it harder for me to answer?
- Do I have trouble hearing over the telephone?
- Do people get annoyed because I misunderstand what they say?
Kochkin also reminds wives and children that families play an important role in men’s health care by helping to educate them. So if you think your husband or father is suffering from hearing loss, sit down with him and visit www.hearingcheck.org so he can take a quick, interactive test to see for himself if he should have his hearing checked. If the answer is yes, go ahead and make an appointment with a hearing health professional. And if you've had trouble hearing recently too, go ahead and make an appointment for your self. Joining dad may make him more open to a hearing test.
Kochkin reminds fathers and families that the newest hearing aids are sleek, sophisticated devices that are scientifically engineered to provide unparalleled sound quality in various hearing environments. Many fit comfortably in the ear and are virtually invisible.
"Today's hearing aid isn't the bulky, old-fashioned hearing aid your father may remember," says Kochkin. "It's the new power tool that may well be the perfect aid for dad today. So this Father’s Day, don’t let your dad slip away—keep him close by giving him the gift of better hearing.”
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Founded in 1973, The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) conducts research and engages in hearing health education with the goal of helping people with hearing loss to benefit from proper treatment. To receive a free copy of BHI's 28 page booklet "Your Guide to Better Hearing," visit its website at www.betterhearing.org or call the Better Hearing Institute hotline at 1-800-EAR-WELL.