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Reflections on the Importance of Hearing Health and Fatherhood this Father’s Day

Proud father, grandfather and hobbyist musician Joseph Cliburn (70) has long suffered from hearing loss, but ultimately chose to forgo hearing aids. It wasn’t until his daughter recently urged him to see an audiologist that he took matters into his own hands to address his hearing health.

“In addition to my daughter pushing me, the final straw was that I couldn’t hear my granddaughter's first words,” Cliburn said. “I knew that I needed to make a change so that I can really get to know her as she grows.”

Cliburn’s story is all too common. Data suggests that men are almost twice as likely as women to have hearing loss among adults ages 20-69 – but despite this fact, women with hearing loss are more likely to purchase hearing aids after visiting an audiologist.

Men are almost twice as likely as women to have hearing loss among ages 20-69

In addition to being more likely to develop hearing loss, men also seem more likely to be burdened with the associated stigma that can accompany it. Overcoming this stigma is essential to maintaining familial relationships; research suggests that it’s also key to slowing cognitive decline as we age.

According to Cliburn, a now enthusiastic wearer of Widex SmartRIC™ hearing aids fitted by Dr. Jamie Graham of Gulf Coast Center of Audiology, he has achieved a new level of enjoyment and a deeper means of connection with his family – especially in environments that he struggled to hear in previously.

“With Widex SmartRIC hearing aids, I can clearly hear my granddaughter who is now speaking full sentences,” he remarked. “Plus, I am able to go to several events to support her, including her preschool graduation. For the first time in a long time, I was able to understand the presentation in an auditorium.”

In addition to elevating his familial communication, Cliburn is also now able to enjoy the hobbies that enrich his life and keep him mentally stimulated, like playing music. “Before I addressed my hearing health, my piano and guitar sounded muddy and delayed,” he added. “With hearing aids, I can play my instruments with clarity, and it’s far more enjoyable.”

Father’s Day is an opportune time to check in on the wellbeing of our fathers, grandfathers and sons. If your loved one is experiencing hearing loss, there are steps you can take to help them address it.

  1. Cultivate a supportive environment: Hearing loss can be difficult to grapple with emotionally. It has an impact on your loved one’s ability to interact socially, and they may be feeling isolated even if they have not openly expressed it. If you understand that your loved one has hearing loss, help build a supportive environment that encourages them to engage. Researching and understanding the challenges they endure will provide much-needed emotional support.

  2. Encourage him to seek professional help: Sensitively and empathetically urging your loved one to receive in-depth evaluation from a hearing care professional will help jump start his journey to addressing hearing health. An audiologist will diagnose the severity of hearing loss and assist in determining the best solution forward. This is the most important step, but can also often be the most difficult. Do your best to assure your loved ones that their quality of life will improve significantly with assistance.

  3. Understand the solutions available: Advancements in technology have propelled innovation in the hearing aid industry. The solutions available today differ wildly from hearing aids of the past that are perceived as clunky and uncomfortable. Understanding how sound quality and aesthetics have changed will help your loved one overcome the stigma of wearing a hearing aid – and may even get them excited about it.

We all know that connection is the fundamental basis of any relationship – familial or otherwise. Addressing hearing health is of the utmost importance to maintaining the relationships that mean the most to us. “If anyone is concerned about their hearing, get tested by an audiologist that you can trust,” Cliburn concluded. “Investing in hearing aids to understand my granddaughter has made all the difference.”

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