Let’s face it, being on a conference call isn’t usually the most exciting way to spend an hour, or, lord help us, two. Twenty minutes into a call, my mind will start wandering to chores I need to do, places I’d like to go, sand castles I’d like to build in those places I’d like to go. It’s all so nice and peaceful until I hear those dreaded words come out of the phone, “Dan, what do you think about that?”
I’ve gotten pretty good at the old, “Oops, you dropped out for a second, can you repeat that last part?” excuse. But more and more when I’m on calls, I’m beginning to miss things not because my mind was on a beach in Turks and Caicos but because I actually couldn’t hear what the person just said. And I’m not alone.
The Hearing Loss Epidemic
About 20 percent of Americans—48 million—report some degree of hearing loss, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. And not all of those people seek professional help. Dave Hutcheson, Publications Editor at HLAA, told me, “There are several obstacles for people seeking help for a hearing loss, including denial and the stigma associated with it. The biggest concern we hear by far is the ability to afford hearing aids.”
True, hearing aids cost thousands of dollars and are not covered by insurance. How crazy it that? Recommendations for more affordable hearing health care have been made by the National Academies of Sciences, and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Grassley introduced the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2016 this past December to remedy this problem affecting so many. Still, who knows if these recommendations will be adopted?
And even if they are, hearing aids are far from perfect. Luckily, new hearing amplification products and apps, like SonicCloud, which can help you now.
Do Your Ears Need Some Assistance?
But to return to the question at hand: How do you know if you need a boost when it comes to hearing? According to The Hearing Loss Association of America, if you answer yes to a couple of these questions or more, you see an audiologist and for a professional assessment.
1. Do you often have to ask people to repeat what they just said? Again, don’t count zoning out during work meetings. But if words or phrases are going unheard when there you are sitting across from the person you’re talking to, it’s a problem.
2. Do you think most people mumble all the time? Definitely don’t count if you were talking to my 13-year-old—he 100% mumbles. In fact, seek help immediately if you spoke with him and it didn’t sound like he was mumbling. But joking aside, if you are increasingly thinking everyone is talking inaudibly or in a whispery tone, yup – it’s probably you.
3. Do you avoid going out to noisy bars after work because you can never hear what anyone is saying? Sure, sometimes you don’t what to hear that boring guy from accounting talk endlessly about his re-paving his patio. But most of the time, you do want to hear what your squad is saying. And if that can’t happen when you are outside the office at a restaurant, bar or café, it’s probably a sign that your hearing isn’t as good as it used to be.
4. Do you have trouble hearing your alarm clock? No, hitting the snooze bar 15 times is not what I’m talking about. This is sleeping straight through an alarm – or at least until your wife says, “What’s the matter with you? Can’t you hear that?!?”
5. Is it increasingly hard to follow what’s happening on a show or movie because you can’t hear the dialogue? Give yourself a little break if the show isGame of Thrones. I can’t tell what’s ever going on in that show whether I can hear it or not. But if you need to crank your volume up to decibels that make the rest of your household cringe, it’s time. Press pause and go see the ear doc and start looking into ways to get your hearing as good as it can get.