Disability Awareness Sunday at the First Presbyterian Church (Dr. Solodar addresses the congregation)

It is such an honor and privilege to be standing here before you. It is not often that I’m in the company of people, other than my audiology colleagues, who share the same passion for a subject that is so near and dear to my heart AND who can voice the importance of our sense of hearing.

When Dr. George Wirth and Sally Nunnly came to my office to ask if I would participate in this Sunday’s program, I listened carefully to the information that was presented and was so impressed with how your leadership embraces this type of education. I felt their excitement and heard their enthusiasm concerning your Sunday Disability Awareness programs like the one today on hearing loss and realized very quickly it would have been very difficult for me to say NO.

Hearing is one of our 5 precious senses. It is a complex process of picking up sound and putting a meaning to it.

Did you know that 36 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss which represents about 17% of our population & that number has doubled over the last 30 years.

And did you know that it takes the average individual 8-10 years from the time they suspect having a hearing problem to actually seeking treatment and doing something about it?

There are many SIGNS of hearing loss that include: thinking that people mumble, asking people to repeat themselves, turning the TV or radio up too loud but as an audiologist, the #1 complaint of patients is the saying” I hear but don’t understand. Like missing the punch line of a joke OR not discerning the individual words to carry on a meaningful conversation.

There are many CAUSES of hearing loss that you may be aware of: repeated ear infections, viral attacks, vascular accidents, certain medications cause varying degrees of hearing loss and hereditary issues but aside from aging the #1 cause is noise exposure. And I’m happy to say that as the current chair of the Georgia Commission on HI and Deaf Persons, one of our statewide initiatives is to inform and educate the public on the hazards of noise and how WE can protect our ears from noise induced hearing loss.

Untreated hearing loss affects our lives in many ways: educationally, occupationally, financially, psychologically and socially. The literature supports the fact that hearing loss does not only affect the individual alone but affects ALL members of a family. Hearing loss that goes untreated causes auditory deprivation which poses a great challenge for audiologists who treat hearing loss with hearing aids when you wait too long. The longer you wait the more difficult it is to treat. Many people have a hearing loss and either do not realize it or deny it, often leaving one embarrassed, depressed or feeling isolated from others, choosing to no longer participate in activities that they once enjoyed.

So my message to you today is IF you suspect having a hearing loss, DON’T WAIT, get evaluated by an audiologist and commit to getting help.. BECAUSE life is way too short to continue to struggle with hearing loss when there are so many new hearing aid technologies and options AND hearing solutions to NOT ONLY improve your hearing and NOT ONLY to improve your communication ability but to truly improve the quality of your life through better hearing.

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