American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

ASHA PSA Campaign Aims To End The Silence Surrounding Hearing Loss Among Older Americans

Left Ignored, Health Problem Can Foster Social Isolation, Depression

(Rockville, MD - May 15, 2012)  

Speak Up About Hearing Loss, a new broadcast public service announcement (PSA) campaign by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) launches today to encourage older Americans to seek treatment for hearing loss.

The ASHA campaign is distributing English and Spanish versions of video and audio PSAs to major broadcast outlets nationwide to end the silence that surrounds hearing loss among older Americans judging from a recent poll of AARP members by AARP and ASHA.

More than half of the poll respondents reported having untreated hearing problems. Also, findings indicated that hearing problems weren't being discussed in many cases, either by the persons with them or by the people close to them, even though untreated hearing loss significantly fosters other problems such as social isolation and depression.

Earlier this year, Johns Hopkins University researchers reported that "evidence is beginning to surface that hearing loss is associated with poorer cognitive functioning and the risk of dementia." Groups like the National Council On the Aging and the Better Hearing Institute have warned about the consequences of untreated hearing loss among seniors as well as all other age groups.

ASHA's new campaign hones in on one particular finding from the AARP ASHA poll that showed that nearly 70% of respondents would seek treatment for hearing problems if they were asked to do so by loved ones.

"Our campaign has a simple but important aim: to put hearing loss among older people on the family kitchen table for discussion that will hopefully lead to action," ASHA President Shelly Chabon, PhD, CCC-SLP says. "Currently, hearing loss among seniors is being ignored at the risk of considerable health, social, and financial costs for individuals and society alike. The size of our older population is increasing significantly every day. It is long past time to end the silence and lack of action when it comes to untreated hearing loss among older people."

ASHA President Chabon encourages the public to visit www.asha.org/hearing, the site for Speak Up About Hearing Loss, for information and leads to resources, including where they can find audiologists for help. She notes: "As a first action step, we hope families will encourage their loved ones to visit an audiologist for a thorough hearing assessment."

About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 150,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists in the United States and internationally. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems including swallowing disorders.

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