Hearing aids: So the world may hear

So often “busy” takes over our lives and we seem to disconnect from those who are missing a vital part of life. If we are blessed with good eyesight, strong healthy minds and bodies, we tend to forget about those less fortunate.
If it weren’t for educated, caring people who are involved in offering assistance and sharing their expertise to help both adults and children to work through their disabilities and handicaps, where would we be?

Hearing is an important connection to everyday living. It’s a source of communication as well as pleasure. There are many who can’t hear a child laugh or cry or enjoy phone calls from grandchildren. If we couldn’t hear a teacher’s instructions in a classroom, a siren for safety or a sound alerting us of malfunctions from the many electronics we have, how sad would that be?
Offering a path to better hearing, Christie-Ann Conrad, owner/director of Crossroads Speech and Hearing (CSH)in Mc-Murray and her staff continuously collect formerly-owned hearing aids for reuse by needy folks with hearing impairments.

CSH is a collection site for old or never-used hearing devices, even those that are nonfunctioning or broken. Donated hearing aids can be refurbished and recycled and parts can be used from those that are damaged.
“Hear Now,” a division of the Starkey Hearing Foundation, distributes all makes and models of used hearing aids, regardless of age, to those in need throughout the U.S. Financial guidelines are set by Starkey’s program, whose goal is to deliver one million hearing devices this decade “so the world may hear.”
“We are often contacted on what to do with hearing aids once a family member has passed,” said audiologist Susan Hodges.
“‘Hear Now’ provides the instruments and locally CSH provides hearing evaluations, impressions and fittings for local eligible patients who are in need of hearing assistance.

With tremendous advancements in science and technology, all men, women and children with hearing loss should become aware of the aids available.
Many factors can impact hearing including early vs. late onset, progressive or sudden loss and severity, linking hearing loss to feelings of depression, anxiety, frustration, social isolation and fatigue.
“As a young girl I babysat two young children,” said Christie-Ann. “One child was very bright, but rarely engaged in play and conversation and had a difficult time in school. After many years his hearing problems were diagnosed. With the help of a speech-language pathologist, the boy began to thrive. At that time I decided to become a speech-language pathologist and hopefully impact others’ lives as I had witnessed.”

Most people don’t know that:
n 1 in 5 teens has hearing loss due to high-volume sounds in
daily life such as music pumping through headphones.
n 600 million people around the world suffer hearing loss; 63 million are children.
n Fewer than 1 in 40 hearing impaired people in developing nations receive hearing aids.
“When hearing loss is untreated, social isolation often results,” continued Susan Hodges. “The technology in today’s hearing aids can help most people with their hearing loss.”
Fifty years ago Starkey’s founder Bill Austin repaired hearing aids in a one-room shop.
Today he provides hearing aids and services in more than 90 countries. In 2011, the Starkey Hearing Foundation donated more than 110,000 hearing instruments.
Hearing loss is considered an invisible handicap. A study at Johns Hopkins University reports a strong link between hearing loss and a risk of developing dementia.
Many of us have family members or friends who have benefited from a better life because of a hearing aid. These listening devices may no longer be functioning or needed, often forgotten about, and folks may be seeking direction on what to do with them.
Christmas and holiday seasons seem to increase our awareness of helping others.
Why not make this program this year’s goal?
All year, Crossroads Speech and Hearing forwards donated hearing aids to “Hear Now,” increasing the quality of lives for others. For details, call 724-941-4434.