Did you know that May is Better Speech and Hearing Month? Can you repeat that?

Back in 1994 (oh, so long ago) I suffered from an acute bout of viral labrynthisis, basically a virus of the ear canal. I was bedbound for about 2 weeks, dizzy for months, and suffered some permanent hearing loss in my left ear after about a year’s recovery. To this day, when the weather gets heavy, I find myself getting dizzy, I have to walk on the left side of someone if I’m going for a long walk, and I often can’t tell where sounds are coming from.

So, imagine my excitement (and, I must admit trepidation) when I was contacted by Sherri Weiss on behalf for Phonak, a leading hearing aid manufacturer regarding their activities throughout “Better Speech and Hearing Month”. They have a quick test on their Web site to help determine if you have a hearing loss and helps refer folks to hearing professionals in their local areas (http://www.hear-the-world.com/hoeren_und_hoerverlust/hoerverlust_erkennen.htm). I took it and discovered (though not to my surprise) that I should really go get my hearing checked again.

So, in celebration of Better Speech and Hearing Month (May), why not get YOUR hearing tested?

It’s no surprise that 50 plussers lead active (and noisy) lifestyles. I certainly remember blasting my eardrums out at the unending stream of concerts and nightclubs in the 70’s and 80’s.

According to Weiss, it should also be no surprise that Baby Boomers suffer from a significantly higher degree of hearing loss than their parents.

She also passed along the following stats: From 1971 to 1990, hearing problems among those between the ages 45 and 64 jumped 26 percent, according to a National Health Interview Survey. There was also a 17 percent increase in the 18 to 44 age group. In California, where researchers surveyed 5,000 people, the rate of impairment jumped 150 percent between 1965 and 1994 among those in their 50s.

And how does that affect you in your job? Weiss mentions a study from the National Academy on an Aging Society (1999) found that labor force participation rates are lower for people with hearing loss than for others. Some 67% of the working age population with hearing loss is employed, compared to 75 percent of the working age population without such a loss. In addition, close to 13% of workers age 51 to 61 with hearing loss report that hearing loss limits the type or amount of paid work they can do.

Phonak also sponsors a worldwide hearing initiative, Hear the World (http://www.hear-the-world.com/ueber_hear_the_world.htm) to educate the public about the importance of hearing, the social and emotional implications of hearing loss, and the available solutions for those with hearing impairment. Program ambassadors include: Plácido Domingo, The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Bryan Adams and Joss Stone.

Phonak US headquarters are in Warrenville, IL and Phonak will get back to me regarding how they promote 50 plus employment opportunities in their own company.

The most recent HEAR THE WORLD event occured in New York on May 1st, with two mobile audiology units (with audiologists on site to perform hearing tests) stationed in Manhattan.

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