August 31, 2017

The Sound of Life

By Rosie Barrick, Sound of Life Foundation

Did you know that 47% of people aged 75 and older suffer from some hearing loss? And over 5% of the world’s population (360 million people) has disabling hearing loss (328 million adults and 32 million children). Not only are these people unable to experience the sounds of the world that we take for granted each day, but their hearing loss can also lead to a low quality of life. Recent studies have shown that untreated hearing loss can lead to an increase in dementia risk, cognitive decline, and brain atrophy. Here at the Sound of Life Foundation we do not take these statistics lightly. Our main focus at The Sound of Life Foundation is to provide hearing healthcare to individuals who would otherwise not be able to afford it. We want to bring hope back into the lives of our neighbors, friends, and our loved ones. Our goal for this year is to help reconnect 100 individuals with their families and community through the gift of sound.

2017 has been a busy year for us. Though our main focus is to help individuals in our local communities enjoy the Sound of Life, we are also aware that we are part of a global community, and need to help where help is needed. We have been fortunate to join audiologists from across the country on “hearing missions” in Guatemala, the Middle East and, next month, Ecuador. Providers from Intermountain Audiology have donated their time to the Sound of Life Foundation to help people all over the world improve their quality of life. We recently had a chance to help people in the country of Jordan. Jordan hosts over 657,000 refugees, many fleeing for their lives from the only home they have ever had. We held five clinic days in cities throughout the country and were able to fit hearing aids or repair the devices of over 350 people. As we arrived to our clinic session each day, we had anywhere from 75-100 people ready to be seen. If the patient had devices already, the devices were checked while the patient was tested. Once the devices were found to be in working order, they were reprogrammed for the patient. If they did not have devices and were found to be in need, they were fit with the appropriate device for their hearing loss. The light that would shine in their eyes as the hearing aids were turned on was humbling, as they became instantly aware of the sounds around them. Their excitement, happiness, and gratitude for the gift of sound is why we participate in these mission trips! They impact our lives so greatly; we hope we are doing the same for them.

When we provide service in other countries, our attention is on fitting the children with hearing devices. Our goal is to help the child by improving their possibilities, helping them communicate with the world around them, and becoming productive adults. Here, in the United States, there are many resources for children to get hearing devices. There are not as many resources for adults, so that is our focus. We are working on a project to help the Native American community in the Southeast corner area of Utah. What many people do not realize is that there are many individuals in desperate need of help and care, right in our own “backyard.” In the Native American culture, the elderly have always been highly respected. With more and more untreated hearing loss, families are struggling to communicate with each other—especially the elderly. We want to prevent that struggle from happening, not only in our culture, but in theirs as well. It is our hope that the beautiful traditions of the Native American community not change due to the inability to communicate with each other. It is our goal to better the lives of 150 Native Americans in the series of four days.

None of this is possible without your help, and that of our community. Intermountain Audiology has generously offered to match any donations we receive, up to $25,000. It is our hope that you will generously open your hearts and wallets to help those in our community enjoy the Sound of Life again. Donations can be made on our website http://soundoflifefoundation.org/ or mailed to Sound of Life Foundation, 20 North Main Street Suite 309, St. George UT 84770.

To learn how you can help, participate in a humanitarian mission, or volunteer, please email franchesca@soundoflifefoundation.org or call (435)574-4744

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