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Rock Star Pat Benatar Urges Baby Boomers to Tune In to Their Hearing Health

Energizer EZ Change Its Hip to H.EA.R.' Program Helps Educate A Generation in Denial About Hearing Loss

ST. LOUIS, May, 2004 Pat Benatar has been making hit music for decades. Now, the rock superstar and Grammy winner has new music and a new message for her peers in the baby boomer generation.

Benatar is the national spokesperson for the Energizer EZ Change Its Hip to H.E.A.R. program, a national cause-related initiative designed to educate baby boomers about the importance of hearing health awareness, prevention and treatment. The program, which kicks-off in May during Better Hearing & Speech month, 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.

While 16 million baby boomers suffer from hearing damage, a recent national survey revealed that most boomers are not concerned about hearing loss or seeking treatment. According to the Energizer survey, only one percent of baby boomers rank hearing loss as a health concern and almost half (45%) say they are not at all worried about hearing loss. Nearly three-quarters (73%) say they have never seen a doctor or hearing specialist to get their hearing tested. Despite this lack of concern, the reality is that there are more baby boomers aged 46-64 with hearing loss than there are people over the age of 65 with hearing loss, and there is 26 percent more hearing loss among baby boomers than in previous generations.

Benatar, who has taken steps during her career to prevent hearing loss, 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 Neil 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. We are excited to team up with Pat Benatar and Energizer EZ Change because we share the mission to educate people about the dangers of hearing loss and how to treat it without sacrificing your quality of life. While a wealth of information on hearing loss is available, our goal with the Its Hip to H.E.A.R. program is to make the message more relevant to baby boomers.

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.

Baby boomers want the latest and greatest technology devices to help simplify and improve their lives, said Benatar. Many are unaware that there are some really innovative products available that can help them protect their hearing and, if they are already dealing with hearing loss, make the process of managing it much easier. These products are also important for the baby boomers who are caring for their parents, many of whom also have hearing loss.

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. For hearing protection while listening to music, the ER6 Isolator Earphones reduce outside sound levels by 34-36 dB. Their high isolation allows individuals to hear the full range of digital recordings without having to play them at unnaturally high and unsafe levels. And, digital sound level meters, such as those found at Radio Shack, allow individuals to adjust the decibel levels of stereos and home theater systems to safer ranges.

The Energizer EZ Change Its Hip to H.E.A.R. program will educate baby boomers and others about the importance of hearing health by distributing information online, in audiologist offices, at retail, in the media and through H.E.A.R.s Partners, including its grass roots network of street teams that travel to concerts and music events around the country. In support of H.E.A.R.s efforts, Energizer EZ Change will make a monetary donation to the non-profit organization.

The increase in the number of baby boomers suffering from hearing impairments is attributed largely to lifestyle factors, including simple everyday noise. Potential hearing damage can occur with exposure to any noise above 85 decibels, especially during frequent or lengthy exposure. This includes city traffic (85 dB) and hairdryers (90dB), which can cause significant hearing damage over time. According to the Energizer survey, most baby boomers (more than 50 percent) were unaware that these activities could cause harm.

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.

For information on testing and treatment, visit www.hearnet.com.

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