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Hearing Loss Presents a Significant Challenge for Rising Number of Caregivers
Date:11/12/2008

New Survey Indicates that a Patient's or Loved One's Hearing Loss Can Lead

to Inefficiency and Even Medical Mistakes

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., Nov. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Hearing loss among those who require the assistance of a caregiver is causing serious problems that impact both the patient and those providing care, according to a new survey released by Songbird Hearing, Inc. (http://www.songbirdhearing.com) More than 44 million Americans now serve as caregivers for a friend, neighbor or family member(1) and join professional caregivers in reporting concerns about problems caused by their patient's or loved one's inability to hear well.

In fact, eight of ten caregivers expressed concern about hearing loss in the person for whom they care, and 86 percent of that group feel that a person's inability to hear clearly can affect the care they receive on a daily basis, according to the nationwide survey of professional and family caregivers conducted by Songbird Hearing.

The National Caregivers Survey, released today in recognition of National Family Caregivers Month, also found that one of four professional caregivers believe that a patient's hearing loss may have led to medical misunderstandings and mistakes.

Currently, more than 21 percent of the country's population find themselves in the position of caregiver for a loved one(1) -- in addition to those employed as professional caregivers. With U.S. Census Bureau statistics indicating that the number of Americans aged 65 or older will double by the year 2030, to more than 70 million, the number of caregivers will also continue to increase.

These caregivers often find themselves dealing with an overwhelming amount of responsibility, and the National Caregivers Survey revealed that dealing with hearing loss adds to the stress. Survey respondents who take the person they care for to the doctor or pharmacy do so an average of four to five times per week and three to four times per month respectively.

According to caregivers of those who wear hearing aids, on average, batteries are replaced about once per week; maintenance is performed four times a year; and the hearing aid is replaced about once a year. Additionally, among hearing aid wearers cared for by those surveyed, more than half have lost or damaged a hearing aid-which can cost thousands of dollars.

With more than 55 million Americans suffering from hearing loss but only one in five currently seeking a solution, Songbird Hearing is attempting to make hearing aids more accessible to those who have previously avoided dealing with the problem due to concerns about cost or inconvenience. The company manufactures disposable, digital hearing aids that can be affordably purchased online-either by hearing loss sufferers or those caring for them.

"Being able to purchase a hearing aid for someone other than yourself is a new concept for most people," said Chris DiCostanzo, president and CEO of Songbird Hearing. "That is why it was so important for us to fully understand the challenges caregivers face on a daily basis. This survey confirmed, as we expected, that caregivers are juggling numerous responsibilities and that their jobs are made even more difficult when hearing loss is an issue."

The surveyed also confirmed that it is often the caregiver who first notices a person's hearing problem. Some of the signs survey respondents have encountered include:

-- Needing people to repeat themselves

-- Turning up the volume on the TV or radio

-- Responding inappropriately to questions

-- Thinking people are mumbling

-- Having trouble hearing women and children

-- Avoiding social situations

Despite these signs, and related conversations with the caregivers Songbird Hearing surveyed, 72 percent of those showing signs of hearing loss are not addressing the problem. Reasons these people chose not to wear a hearing aid include:

-- It costs too much

-- They believe hearing aids are inconvenient

-- They think it will be uncomfortable

-- They don't want others to know they have hearing loss

-- They don't think they need it

-- They don't like the way the device looks

In addition to conducting this survey of 520 caregivers, Songbird Hearing is also a sponsor of the National Family Caregivers Association's (http://www.nfcacares.org/) efforts to reach out to family caregivers during National Family Caregivers Month in November.

"The results of Songbird Hearing's survey serve as a strong reminder to family caregivers of the necessity to Speak Up, which is also this year's theme for National Family Caregivers Month," said Suzanne Mintz, president and co-founder of the NFCA. "This does not mean that family caregivers must speak up for their hard of hearing loved ones, it means that if it is in the best interest of the family caregiver and their loved one for them to wear a hearing aid then they must Speak Up and seriously consider purchasing the hearing aid to improve the quality of life for both themselves and their loved ones."

About Songbird Hearing, Inc.

Songbird Hearing manufactures disposable, digital hearing aids that are sold directly to consumers. Based in North Brunswick, New Jersey, Songbird's hearing aid technology was invented in Princeton, New Jersey, by the Sarnoff Corporation (formerly RCA Labs), the same technology lab that has created some of the world's leading consumer technology innovations, such as HDTV and Digital Satellite TV. Songbird Hearing's mission is to improve the lives of people suffering from mild to moderate hearing loss and the people that care for them by offering them a unique solution that is affordable and convenient. For more information or to order a Songbird hearing aid visit http://www.songbirdhearing.com or call toll-free 1-800-766-4247.

*Hearing loss can be a symptom of a medically-treatable condition. Songbird recommends seeing a physician prior to using any hearing aid.*

1) 2004 study by the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP


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SOURCE Songbird Hearing, Inc.
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