May is speech and hearing awareness month and many of our Canadian Academy of Audiology, (CAA) members design and promote a wide variety of public education materials.
Marshall Chasin was invited to be part of a Duracell initiative that involved the singer/songwriter Jann Arden. Over the course of 8 hours Marshall and Jann did 12 media interviews that included Breakfast TV, CTV, and a number of Internet media outlets.
Jann’s message was quite important. Her mother recently was fitted with hearing aids and is doing quite well. Mrs. Arden has some cognitive decline but the family just assumed that her mom’s inability to communicate in some situations was just a normal response to the cognitive decline. The family physician suggested a hearing assessment and one was done showing a bilateral “70%” hearing loss. Understandably the family felt quite guilty- imagine not realizing that mom was hearing as if she was under the water and wearing industrial earplugs. Guilt is a common feeling among family members.
Hearing loss is a slow gradual process with no pain so it’s completely understandable that it is sometimes called the invisible handicap. Given the nature of gradual hearing loss the family should not be feeling guilty- it’s not as if blood gushed from the ears whenever there is a hearing loss.
The importance of the work of Dr Frank Lin from John’s Hopkins was discussed. He, and his colleagues were the first to link untreated hearing loss with cognitive decline. Early identification is not just for children; it is for all of us. Dr. Frank Lin and his colleagues at John’s Hopkins University are building an understanding of the implications of the link between the onset of dementia and the presence of hearing loss found in a large longitudinal study.
A solution is a massive educational effort by all stakeholders involved to ensure that hearing loss no longer remains invisible.
Marshall was able to demonstrate his new app called Temporary Hearing Loss Test (available on Apple and Android in a few weeks). This measures the hearing at 6000 HZ before noise or music exposure and then again after; the difference being a measure of temporary hearing loss, also known as TTS. Repeated TTS over time can result in permanent hearing loss- prevention is the cornerstone behind any educational program.
This was all part of a Duracell sponsored event called “#Stay Connected“. The importance of maintaining your hearing and seeing an audiologist was driven home to a wide ranging audience. Duracell has arranged for 10,000 screening hearing tests from the National Hearing Test – an NIH sponsored not for profit phone test, available until June 26, 2016 and can be accessed at 1-844-9DURACELL.”
Marshall Chasin, AuD, Doctor of Audiology, Queen Elizabeth ll Silver Diamond Jubilee Medal, Editor in Chief of the Canadian Audiologist