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Learn the signs of hearing loss, a common condition affecting older adults; take a look at these questions

An estimated 700,000 Kentuckians are deaf or hard of hearing, according to U.S. Census data. As a part of Deaf Awareness, the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (KCDHH) within the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet (EWDC) is encouraging Kentuckians to learn the signs of hearing loss.

There are over 48 million Americans who have significant hearing loss, according to the 2011 National Health Interview Survey. By 2030, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders estimates that number to be 90 million.

Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults and may be hard to detect because it usually happens over time. Approximately one in three adults between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Additionally, one in five teens also experience some type of hearing loss due to listening to music through earbuds at unsafe volumes.

“People can experience hearing loss at any age for a variety of reasons,” said KCDHH Executive Director Virginia L. Moore. “Hearing loss can be sudden or gradual and can be caused by noise, disease, accident, heredity or aging. Many citizens are not aware of the multitude of state and national resources that are available to them through the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. KCDHH has a resource library that can be accessed in person or through the mail.”

Books and videos on topics ranging from coping with a hearing loss to assistive devices, legal rights and parenting a child with a hearing loss are available through the library. KCDHH also distributes, at no cost, specialized telephone equipment to any Kentucky resident who has a hearing loss or speech impairment that affects his ability to effectively communicate using a regular telephone. The agency also provides communication visor cards and fact sheets targeting hearing loss and prevention.

Individuals who answer “yes” to three or more of the following questions should contact a medical professional for a hearing exam:

1. Do I have a problem
hearing on the telephone?

2. Do I have trouble hearing when there is noise in the background?

3. Is it hard for me to follow a conversation when two or more people talk at once?

4. Do I have to strain to understand a conversation?

5. Do many people I talk to seem to mumble (or not speak clearly)?

6. Do I misunderstand what others are saying and respond inappropriately?

7. Do I often ask people to repeat themselves?

8. Do I have trouble understanding the speech of women and children?

9. Do people complain that I turn the TV volume up too high?

10. Do I hear a ringing, roaring, or hissing sound a lot?

11. Do some sounds seem too loud?

To learn about KCDHH and the resources available to those suffering from hearing loss, visit www.kcdhh.ky.gov or follow us on Facebook.

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