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Energizer EZ Change Its Hip to Hear: Overview, Review & Program Initiation

In 2003, Energizer embarked on a national campaign titled Energizer EZ Change ''Its Hip to H.E.A.R.'' to understand issues and demographics related to ''baby boomers,'' hearing, and hearing loss. Another goal was to better understand how to protect ''boomers'' from hearing loss secondary to noise exposure.

In this brief article, some of the key findings will be revealed, and some important ''facts'' will be highlighted for the benefit of the consumers and the hearing healthcare professionals, and the ''Its Hip to Hear'' program will be addressed.

Review of Hearing Health Facts

Some 28 million Americans have reduced hearing sensitivity. Of those, 80% have irreversible hearing loss (A). Hearing loss is the third most common chronic healthcare ailment in the USA. One in every 1000 infants born in the U.S. has a severe or profound hearing loss.

As a result of the aging population, between 1990 and 2050 the number of hearing-impaired Americans will increase at a faster rate than the total U.S. population (B). Every 7 seconds a baby boomer turns 50 and it is projected that by the year 2015, the number of Americans suffering from hearing loss will increase between 20 to 25 percent (C). There are more baby boomers aged 45-64 with hearing loss than there are people over the age of 65 with hearing loss. (D). According to the National Health Interview Survey by the National Center for Health Statistics, there is 26 percent more hearing loss among those now aged 46 to 64 than in previous generations (E). Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that the prevalence of hearing impairment nearly doubled between 1965 and 1994. (F). After President Bill Clinton was fitted for hearing aids, more than 1 million other baby boomers identified themselves as having experienced hearing loss (G). Of the 28 million Americans with hearing loss, nearly half are the result of damage from excessive noise (H). A live rock concert produces sounds from 110 to 120 decibels easily high enough to cause permanent damage over a 2 to 3 hour period (I). Approximately 30 million workers are exposed to hazardous noise on the job and an additional nine million are at risk for hearing loss from other agents such as solvents and metals (J).

The Energizer Study

Energizer engaged Pragmatic Research, Inc. (PRI) of St. Louis, Missouri. PRI conducted a survey of 1,010 respondents for Energizer EZ Change.

The survey consisted of 28 open-ended and closed-ended questions, fielded through the use of a CATI (Computer Aided Telephone Interviewing) system from September 15, 2003 through October 19, 2003. Respondents were screened to ensure they were between 39 and 57 years of age, as is the traditional definition of the ''Baby Boomer'' generation (those born between 1946 and 1964).

Respondents were classified into three categories:

1- Those without hearing loss (655) 65%
2- Those with suspected hearing loss, not diagnosed (215) 21%
3- Those diagnosed with hearing loss (140) 14%

Some of the key findings of the study are presented below:

Interestingly, only one percent of the baby boomers ranked hearing loss as a health concern. Not surprisingly, cancer is mentioned most often as a medical or health concern - by 71% of the respondents, heart disease was mentioned by 31 percent, and diabetes was mentioned third, by 15 percent.

Almost half (45%) of all respondents said they were not at all concerned about hearing loss.

Thirty-five percent of the Boomers said they had experienced ''some'' hearing loss, although the majority have not had their hearing tested. Additionally, nearly three-quarters (73%) of all respondents say they have never seen a doctor or hearing specialist primarily to get their hearing tested and two-thirds (65%) of all respondents say they did not have their hearing tested the last time they had a routine medical checkup on physical examination.

Among respondents with hearing loss, only 6% reported wearing hearing aids. Over half (57%) of the respondents said they dont wear hearing aids because they dont feel they need it yet, or they dont need it all the time.

Over two-thirds of the Boomers were unaware that common everyday noises such as street traffic and hair dryers can cause hearing damage. Noises with an 85 decibel loudness level, or more, can cause hearing damage. Respondents were asked which of the following everyday noises can cause hearing damage.

Energizer Pro-Active Initiative

Grammy winner and rock star Pat Benatar has agreed to serve as the national spokesperson for the Energizer EZ Change ''Its Hip to H.E.A.R.'' program, to educate baby boomers about the importance of hearing health awareness, prevention and treatment. The program is being executed in partnership with the non-profit group Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers (H.E.A.R.) and Energizer EZ Change, the worlds first hearing aid battery dispenser.

Benatar has taken steps during her career to prevent hearing loss and she wants to raise awareness about the importance of hearing health education, prevention and treatment. ''As a rock musician, I know firsthand the risks of hearing loss and how it affects your quality of life,'' she said. ''Many of my friends have suffered permanent hearing damage, and my husband and I both take proactive steps to protect our hearing health. Unfortunately, many of my peers are in denial.''

''Baby boomers were the first generation to be raised on rock and roll, and many continue to enjoy high volume lifestyles.'' said Kathy Peck, executive director and co-founder of H.E.A.R. ''Were excited to team up with Pat Benatar and Energizer EZ Change because we share the same mission - to educate people about the dangers of hearing loss.
The national education effort includes a free Energizer EZ Change Its Hip to H.E.A.R. Survival Guide that provides information on baby boomer lifestyles, hearing loss detection and treatment options. A key focus of the program is to educate people about new technologies available to help them manage their hearing health. In support of H.E.A.R.s efforts, Energizer EZ Change will make a monetary donation to the non-profit organization.
Among the hearing health technologies available is the Energizer EZ Change, the first hearing aid battery dispenser that allows hearing aid users to insert their batteries precisely without having to handle the tiny batteries or tabs. This eliminates the frustration of dropping, fumbling and losing the small batteries and makes it possible to change them quickly any place and any time.

''It is possible to enjoy an active lifestyle and protect your hearing,'' said Ernie Petrus, Director of Sales and Marketing for Energizer Miniature Batteries, U.S. ''Although everyday activities such as listening to the car radio and using headphones can cause hearing damage, there are many new technologies available that help lessen the effects of early hearing loss and also minimize the social stigma of wearing hearing aids. Getting your hearing tested at the first sign of hearing problems is crucial because the damaging effects of hearing loss are cumulative and irreversible.''

''I want people to know that early testing and diagnosis are key,'' says Benatar. ''As a musician, I learned early in my career the importance of healthy hearing, although many of my friends didnt realize the damage until it was too late. By tuning in to your own hearing health and getting tested, you can lessen or avoid the negative effects of hearing loss and enjoy the sounds of music and everyday life for years to come.''

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