Listening Up in a Down Economy: Hearing Aids Prove to Be Effective 'Job Preserver' in Economic Tsunami

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As millions struggle to hang on to their jobs in a tumultuous economy, the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) reminds American workers that maximizing their ability to hear well is a smart job security strategy. Treating hearing loss early is critical for optimal job performance. To facilitate a timely hearing test for American workers, BHI is offering an online hearing test (http://www.betterhearing.org/hearing_loss/quickHearingCheck.cfm) where people can quickly assess if they need a more comprehensive hearing check by a hearing professional.

Now, more than ever, people in the workforce need to put their best foot forward and address untreated hearing loss. Currently, more than 24 million people in the United States who say they have hearing loss don't have hearing aids.

As millions struggle to hang on to their jobs in a tumultuous economy, the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) reminds American workers that maximizing their ability to hear well is a smart job security strategy. Treating hearing loss early is critical for optimal job performance.

To facilitate a timely hearing test for American workers, BHI is offering an online hearing test (http://www.betterhearing.org/hearing_loss/quickHearingCheck.cfm) where people can quickly assess if they need a more comprehensive hearing check by a hearing professional.
"When people with even mild hearing loss use hearing aids, they improve their job performance, increase their earning potential, enhance their communication skills, improve their professional and interpersonal relationships, stave off depression, and better their quality of life," says Sergei Kochkin, PhD, Executive Director of the non-profit BHI.

"Unaddressed hearing loss has a negative impact on overall job effectiveness, opportunity for promotion, and even lifelong earning power," Kochkin said. "Now, more than ever, people in the workforce need to put their best foot forward and address untreated hearing loss. Currently, more than 24 million people in the United States who say they have hearing loss don't have 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. The study found that wearing a hearing aid reduces the amount of income lost. Specifically, untreated hearing loss negatively affects household income, on-average, by nearly $23,000 per year depending on the degree of hearing loss. The use of hearing aids mitigates those negative effects by about 50 percent.

Additional research by the National Council on the Aging (NCOA)--"The Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss in Older Persons"--demonstrates that hearing aids are associated with improvements in the social, emotional, psychological, and physical well-being of people with hearing loss--regardless of whether their hearing loss is mild or severe. Hearing aid use improved earning power, communication in relationships, intimacy and warmth in family relationships, ease in communication, emotional stability, sense of control over life events, perception of mental functioning, physical health, and group social participation. Just as importantly, the NCOA research shows that hearing loss treatment reduces discrimination toward the person with the hearing loss. Those with untreated hearing loss suffer from hearing loss compensation behaviors, such as pretending to hear, which results in anger and frustration in relationships, depression and depressive symptoms, feelings of paranoia, anxiety, social phobias, and self-criticism.

"I cannot overstate the importance of treating hearing loss as early as possible," Kochkin emphasizes. "Too often people with hearing loss delay the decision to get hearing help because they don't realize that taking a hearing test and receiving early treatment have the potential to transform their lives--and their livelihood."

"The hidden statistic, which people never think about, is the toll that untreated hearing loss takes on our overall economy," Kochkin continues. "The estimated cost in lost earnings due to untreated hearing loss is $122 billion--that's roughly $18 billion in unrealized federal taxes. With the current national debt in excess of $10 trillion, that's a number that we just can't afford."

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 http://www.betterhearing.org or call the Better Hearing Institute hotline at 1-800-EAR-WELL.

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Fabia D'Arienzo
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