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Everybody Loses Their Hearing

What? You heard that right.

We won’t get too existential here, but it is simply a part of life that we age. And, as we age, the many different processes of our body slow down, wear out, and deteriorate. The same goes for our sense of hearing. You can see it in the numbers: hearing loss is currently the third most common physical condition in the United States, following heart disease and arthritis.

While some 48 million Americans, or 20% of the population, have a hearing loss, the bulk of people who experience this condition are older than 65. Approximately one in three people over 65 and 50% of people over 75 experience some degree of hearing loss.

With the understanding that everyone loses their hearing, we take a look at presbycusis (age-related hearing loss), how hearing loss and brain function are related, and why it is important to take an annual hearing test – no matter how young you are.

 

Understanding Presbycusis

Presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, is a form of sensorineural hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss is one of the three main types of hearing loss. Deep inside your inner ear, there are several thousand tiny inner hair cells. These cells are responsible for translating sound waves into neural signals, and then sending these signals to your brain to be registered as sound.

Presbycusis – and sensorineural hearing loss – occurs when structures of the inner ear deteriorate or when there is damage to inner ear hair cells (which do not regenerate once they have died). Presbycusis occurs with the natural process of aging: inner ear hair cells naturally deteriorate and do not regenerate with presbycusis. As a result, sound signals may be muddled and are not sent to the brain in an efficient and clear manner.

Unlike other forms of hearing loss, presbycusis occurs naturally and gradually over time. According to Dr. Justin S. Golub, presbycusis is often undiagnosed and undertreated, with under 20% of people receiving treatment for age-related hearing loss. Even more distressing is that “this statistic has not changed in over 40 years,” according to Dr. Golub.

If left untreated for a long period of time, presbycusis could lead to other issues that affect different areas of your life and overall well-being.

 

Consequences of Untreated Age-Related Hearing Loss

As an invisible condition, hearing loss often goes untreated. Age-related hearing loss, in particular, goes untreated simply because the symptoms are often relegated to the idiosyncrasies of older people. When hearing loss is “just a part of growing old,” there isn’t much motivation to do anything about it.

Unfortunately, if left untreated, age-related hearing loss (and other kinds too) could lead to a number of negative consequences in different parts of your life. People with untreated hearing loss tend to withdraw socially, as communication becomes challenging. Rather than going through the awkward motions of asking people to repeat themselves or to please turn up the volume, people with untreated hearing loss may end up avoiding social gatherings altogether. This social isolation becomes a risk factor of developing dementia. Coincidentally, untreated hearing loss is also a risk factor for developing dementia.

Numerous studies from Johns Hopkins University have found links between untreated hearing loss and a higher risk for developing dementia. When the brain struggles to make sense of sound, its cognitive load is heavier and thus detracts from the brain’s focus on other functions, such as memory or concentration.  Over time, this heavier cognitive load to lead to dementia.

 

Schedule an Annual Hearing Test

Indeed, the signs of hearing loss are subtle and often, hearing loss develops gradually, which means that we find ways to accommodate our diminishing hearing abilities. With the understanding that everyone loses their hearing, we counter with the fact that hearing loss is treatable.

Treating hearing loss is a simple way to restore your abilities and reconnect yourself to your loved ones and the world around you. It is recommended that people schedule annual hearing tests at the age of 50. If you are younger than 50, it wouldn’t hurt to take an annual hearing test anyway – people of all ages experience hearing loss.

The Hearing Loss Association of America estimates that people wait an average of seven years from the time they first notice changes in their hearing to the time they decide to seek treatment for hearing loss. By scheduling an annual hearing test, you are committing to your overall health and well-being at every age.

About our guest writer Gabe Nelson

Gabriel Nelson is a man of 31 years old. He is the kind of guy that loves to watch superhero movies, to read Harry Potter, and play video games. Gabe enjoys freelance content writing occasionally and tends to write about his passions. Gabriel also loves water, streams, brooks, lakes and oceans, which is probably due to once being a crab fisherman in Alaska for a couple of years.

 

From the President

Don DippnerFrom the President’s Desk

Neighbors helping neighbors.    It’s what you did in my day.

I grew up in the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch County in the late 50’s in the small rural town of Paradise, Pennsylvania.neighbors helping neighbors

Our main claim to fame was the founder of Park Seed Company, George Watt Park, who ran his seed business from 1902 to around 1920 in what was then LaPark and is now Paradise, Pennsylvania.

After the seed mill was destroyed in a fire around 1920 the seed business was eventually relocated to Greenwood, SC where it continues to operate to this day.

The three story Park Mansion is all that remains of the Park Empire in Paradise, Pennsylvania.

I grew up on 25 LaPark Avenue just a short distance from the Park Mansion.  In fact, Park Seed employees built the six homes on LaPark Avenue.   Each 2 story A-frame home was built the same with a kitchen area and living room on the first floor and 3 bedrooms on the second floor.  We didn’t have a well but a cistern that collected rainwater and a hand pump above the cistern to draw water which we used for cooking, cleaning, and bathing. All the homes had an outhouse in the back as indoor bathrooms didn’t become popular until after the 1930’s; I was 11 years old when we had indoor plumbing installed.

We lived in an economically depressed neighborhood. We didn’t have much growing up but neither did our neighbors.  We all pulled together to help each other whenever we could.  We weren’t related by blood but we were related by location and circumstance.  We enjoyed each other’s company and made of the best of times we had together.

Today I find myself in a new neighborhood called the SayWhatClub®. My new neighborhood spreads across various states and around the globe.  I have made many wonderful friends in the SWC and continue to increase that great circle of friends every year.

Each and every year I am loving this new neighborhood even more.  Our hearing loss has brought us together and my SWC family means the world to me.

The SWC just celebrated its 20th Anniversary this past December and I want to do whatever I can to insure that we will be around for another 20 years.

Neighbors helping neighbors is still important in this day and age and especially with the SayWhatClub®.

We need your help in big ways and small ways to help us continue to reach out to others with hearing loss that haven’t heard about the SWC family but are searching for a connection to others that understand their challenges in today’s world.

Two of my favorite quotes are from Helen Keller (a deaf-blind American author and lecturer 1880 – 1968),

“I am only one, but still I am one.  I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.

and

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

It is my hope and desire that 2018 will be the year of accomplishments and it’s sure starting out that way!

  • The new web site is up and running and more and more people are finding out about the SayWhatClub® and what it can do for them.
  • We are fielding many requests for information about the SWC from our Web site.
  • Many people are reading our blog entries on the web site as well.
  • Quite a few first time attendees have registered to attend the 2018 SWC St. Paul Convention in August.
  • Our Board of Directors are putting in many volunteer hours to keep things running smoothly and efficiently.
  • Our Committees are reaching out to help current subscribers and potential subscribers who are looking to connect with an organization like the SayWhatClub® and finally found that connection.
  • Facebook has been a boom for people finding out about us.
    • SayWhatClub® Facebook Group is attracting more and more followers.
    • SayWhatClub® with Friends Group is adding followers each month.
    • SayWhatClub® Gen-Y is growing each month as well.
  • Our first Fundraiser in the fall was a huge success.
  • The fundraising team is developing tools and processes to help us be more effective and efficient.
  • Our board members are developing handbooks and online training sessions to help our all volunteer organization grow and develop.
  • We are developing tools and processes to help us be more effective and efficient.
  • We have started using collaboration software to help us work better as a team and be more effective and efficient.

We need YOUR help, please.

 Like many nonprofits, we are always in need of volunteers.

Please consider being a volunteer for the SayWhatClub® in big and small ways.

A volunteer is giving up the greatest commodity they have to offer, their personal time.

Why do people volunteer? People choose to volunteer for a variety of reasons. For some it offers the chance to give something back to the community or make a difference to the people around them. For others it provides an opportunity to develop new skills or build on existing experience and knowledge.

How does volunteer work benefit you?

  1. Gain confidence.
  2. Make a difference.
  3. Meet people. Volunteering can help you meet different kinds of people and make new friends.
  4. Be part of a community.
  5. Learn new skills.
  6. Take on a challenge.
  7. Have fun!

 How do I treat volunteers?

  1. Show respect. Arguably the most important aspect of managing volunteers happy is to show them respect.  Treat others the way you want them to treat you.  Lead by example.
  2. Communicate. In addition to email, we now have posts, chats, and are developing a learning library.
  3. Have an open door policy.  Please feel free to email me, Don Dippner, at:  president@saywhatclub.org with your comments and concerns.  I will do my very best to respond to your email within 24-48 hours.
  4. Find common goals. We need to work together and help one another.
  5. Recognize achievement. I plan on doing my best to let you know your efforts are seen and are appreciated.  I want to let you know regularly that ALL of our committees and ALL of our volunteers are as asset to the SWC and highly valued.  Without YOU we would not have a SayWhatClub®.
  6. Build team spirit.  We are in this together and we will make great strides in the years ahead and we will also fall short in some of our endeavors, but I will never give up trying to improve and to learn from past mistakes.   I don’t believe in failure; I do believe in learning from what doesn’t work.
  7. Encourage development and training. We are working on a couple of different ways to help our volunteers know what is expected of them, teach them how to best carry out their duties, develop new and better ways, and have fun in the process.
  1. Accommodate.  I will work with you to help you make the best use of your volunteer time.  I understand that we all have lives outside of the SayWhatClub®, myself included, and it’s often a balancing act of finding time for yourself and your family and finding time for the SayWhatClub®.

In conclusion, “Neighbors helping Neighbors” has always been a part of my life.  I don’t know how not to help others when I can do so.   We have a lot of work ahead of us to keep the SayWhatClub® going strong for another 20 years and more.  I know in my heart we can work together, grow together, and help one another.  Reaching out and helping others is why the SayWhatClub® was founded all those years ago.

Now I am asking you to join me and help me to reach countless others in the hearing loss community that are looking for a friend; someone who understands, someone who cares, and someone who will make a difference in the lives of others.

Are you that someone I am looking for? 

If so, please contact me at:  president@saywhatclub.org sometime this week.

 

Thank you for your time,

Don Dippner

President, SayWhatClub®

https://www.saywhatclub.org

We are an all-volunteer organization and have been around for over 20 years.

Please consider making a tax deductible donation to:

https://www.saywhatclub.org/how-to-donate-to-saywhatclub/

We are also registered with AmazonSmile.  When you sign into Amazon using the AmazonSmile link Amazon will donate 0.5% of your purchase price to the SayWhatClub at no cost to you.

Here’s the direct link to our AmazonSmile account:  https://smile.amazon.com/ch/91-1875174

Thank you for your donations.

THE SAYWHATCLUB CHANGED MY LIFE BY LORNE SMITH

My first SayWhatClub convention changed my life. It was 15 years ago but the memories haven’t faded.

Though I was relatively new to SWC, I had read the glowing  accounts of people who attended the 2002 convention in Alexandria, VA., and how they bonded and laughed each day and well into the night. I knew the 2003 convention would be held in Seattle, just two hours away from me, and I had to be there to see what it was all about.,

Since I couldn’t get time off work to attend the full 2003 convention, I made the best of the two days I had. On Friday morning, I got up early and drove to Seattle in time to attend the second day of workshops. I didn’t know many people there, but that changed fast. During the morning break, people welcomed me, introduced themselves and chatted as if we’d been longtime friends. One group invited me to go for lunch with them. Another invited me to join them on an afternoon boat ride. I felt so overwhelmed by these generous offers that I turned them all down and spent a quiet lunch alone, in my usual comfort zone. I’ve regretted that decision ever since and vowed never to repeat it.

“People I had met online and others I had never met became instant and lasting friends at that convention.”

For the next two days, I spent as much time as possible in the company of other SWCers at workshops, social activities, the banquet and in the hotel bar, which has become a traditional gathering place for SWCers at the end of each day. People I had met online and others I had never met became instant and lasting friends at that convention.

Hearing loss is a powerful bond. Many of us don’t have family, friends and coworkers who understand the struggles we face each day. At SWC conventions, we have a lot in common, even though our hearing losses vary. We learn together, share our experiences and use whatever methods we can to communicate with each other, without fear of being left out.

“I’ve always liked to say, ‘Hearing loss brings us together; friendship keeps us together.'”

Lorne hanging with friends at a SWC convention

The motto of the SayWhatClub says it all: “Friends with Hearing Loss.” As I’ve always liked to say, hearing loss brings us together; friendship keeps us together. The strength of the SayWhatClub is what we learn from each other and the support we receive from our friends with hearing loss.

Since my first experience in 2003, I haven’t missed a SayWhatClub convention. It’s one of the highlights of my year. I look forward to bonding with old friends and making new ones at the 2018 SWC convention  from Aug. 1-4 in St. Paul, MN.

I hope to see you all in St. Paul.

For more information on upcoming conventions, visit