Hearing loss sufferers in Missouri have a champion in state senator Jeanie Riddle, who wants to make hearing aids easier to get for people with lower incomes.
Senate Bill 101 would establish a program to provide financial aid to people who are deaf or hard of hearing and are at or below the federal poverty level. The financial aid is so they may purchase hearing aids, which cost about $2,500 on average.
Missouri officials believe that nearly 600,000 individuals throughout the state suffer from some form of hearing loss, including children, adults, the elderly, and veterans. Of those 600,000, about 87,000 live below the poverty line, while a state study estimates that about 30,000 people can directly benefit from the program. If voted into law, here’s what Senate Bill 101 can do to help these Missourians hear better:
Hearing loss in children can have a significant impact on their language and speech development, which in turn can lead to poorer academic and social and emotional learning outcomes. Hearing tests for babies are often done in the hospital shortly after birth to discover any potential hearing problems early since intervention within the first six months of life can greatly improve their outcomes. Hearing aids for children, especially younger children, are specially designed to help lower the chances of kids removing or misplacing them. Early intervention, which may combine hearing aids with speech therapy, can set these kids up for success in school and beyond.
Adults who suffer from hearing loss face different challenges since their condition can keep them from earning an income, which creates a vicious cycle. If these adults can’t earn money to treat their hearing loss, their ability to hear may continue to deteriorate and may prevent them from holding a job. In addition, hearing loss has been shown to cause anxiety and depression, among other health concerns. Senate Bill 101 aims to break this cycle by providing these adults with the means to get back to work and lead healthier happier lives.
There are more cases of hearing loss amongst the elderly population because a lifetime of exposure to loud noises adds up. Illnesses that are more common in the elderly, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, as well as the use of certain types of medication, can all negatively impact hearing ability. Additionally, hearing loss can lead to serious health problems for the elderly, such as dementia. Research has shown that cognitive abilities decline faster when hearing loss is present since the brain must use extra resources to fill the gaps in conversations that are only half-heard. In addition, seniors who are retired may have a more difficult time paying for hearing aids, which is why Senator Riddle’s bill can have a huge impact.
Military veterans who suffer from hearing loss in Missouri can greatly benefit from the new law. They are subject to the same concerns as the adults listed above and can anticipate the same problems that face the elderly as they age. Compounding all this is the fact that many veterans were directly exposed to conditions that would harm their hearing, such as large machinery, firefights and prolonged exposure to artillery. In fact, hearing loss is the most common work-related injury for veterans. Even with standard-issue ear protection, such conditions can hugely impact a veteran’s ability to hear. Veterans coming home may also suffer from other mental health issues, such as PTSD, which compounds the anxiety and depression that come along with hearing loss. Helping our veterans gain access to hearing aids with Senate Bill 101 goes a long way to thanking them for their service and repaying them for the sacrifices they made for our country.
Easier access to hearing aids can help each group listed here in different ways, though all will end up with a significantly better quality of life. Learn more about how hearing aid technology has improved over the years, and how it can help you.