Hearing Health and Technology -- Workshop, Project No. P171200 #00088

Submission Number:
Christina Goebel
Initiative Name:
Hearing Health and Technology -- Workshop, Project No. P171200
Hearing aids have saved my life many times from cars on the road. If I hadn't worn them, I wouldn't have heard the cars. They've also allowed me to go to work and college, and to parent. Without them, every moving thing--such as traffic when crossing the street or parking at the mall--can harm. When we are visually distracted, the auditory need increases. As people age and their social circles dwindle, research shows that not communicating can worsen dementia symptoms, which is a huge problem for our personal lives and healthcare systems. Families are often caretakers when healthcare isn't addressing their daily life obstacles, and since families are performing the care, it introduces a newer need and urgency. If your family member can't communicate with you because you can't afford hearing aids for them, then you don't know what they need. While health care providers would protest an open market for hearing aids because it means losing income, there are more people with hearing loss than there are providers, making this an ethical issue. Government should serve the interests of the greatest number of people and this is the number of people with hearing loss. Hearing aids prevent deaths and accidents by providing essential auditory cues. They aren't like cigarettes. Yet, cigarettes have only a warning on the label, despite the fact that everyone knows they can kill. It's responsible to provide hearing aids to consumers at lower costs, with warnings. As far as the manufacture of such devices, that should be monitored for safety. But consumer warnings are enough. Though many healthcare providers probably won't concede it, in my experience, I haven't received warnings from my many former providers about Any potential dangers from hearing aids. If they're a danger to anyone, they aren't telling us. They could hold hearing clinics at locations where they already do blood pressure checks and flu shots, to provide free to low-cost hearing tests. If anyone is concerned that someone would wear an uncomfortable device like a hearing device (they aren't physically comfortable, and they're not fun at to wear the first few weeks, even when you need them, they take getting used to), then public hearing testing could address the mass of people needing hearing assistance today. The need is assessing they don't have ear wax instead of hearing loss. Some places have this equipment already and can tell people if they need to visit a professional. An example of desperate need: a friend of mine had a veteran father. He began losing more hearing. His wife passed away. Then, he had to handle the world without assistance. He had no family nearby. Because he couldn't hear well and had no hearing aids, he ended up losing his driver's license and therefore lost his chance to get to the VA, his only social contacts. He called my friend up wanting to end his life. My friend was lucky to get there in time to help. Can we justify denying something that can Save Lives because of safety issues that are lower than the cancer caused by cigarettes, which only have a warning? Would anyone really use a hearing aid they didn't need, when they are uncomfortable in the wearing, and in the hearing? (Taking getting used to...) That instance would be rare. Hearing loss interferes with the ability to work and earn income, to interact with others, to receive health care (many health care providers have been very intolerant of my having hearing difficulty and have little understanding of it), and to safely walk in society or work. As far as health care providers offering me resources, this also hasn't happened. I learned about vibrating alarm clocks, flashing door signalers, assistive listening devices, captioned phones, and other equipment--on my own. This is a field that says, "You have hearing loss, incurable, here are hearing aids, bye bye." While they offer smiles and hugs, we fend for ourselves to learn how to adapt to lost hearing.