Hearing isn't just a way for us to communicate. It's also a way for us to participate and be an active member of society.
But a loss of hearing can be very crippling. And deafness doesn't just happen in older people.
Kathy Woodbury was diagnosed with mild hearing loss about four years ago, meaning she was 10-15 percent deaf. She could only hear distorted sounds, but now, she's got a whole new outlook on life.
I just found out that it was affecting how I understood words, explains Woodbury. I mean, I can hear sounds. I might not know where they're coming from, but I hear them."
Paula Rodriguez of Miracle Ear in Escanaba recently fitted her with a digital hearing aid.
Many people sometimes shy away from hearing aids because it makes them feel old or embarrassed. The standard bulky ones have been trimmed down, and there are many designs to fit a range of ages and lifestyles.
Or you know, they were just not hearing well, even with them, said Rodriguez. Now, the technology and hearing assistance has really been dramatically changed, very much like our automobiles that we drive today."
And that's why people are more open to asking for help.
Kathy now gets excited hearing the simple things that others may take for granted, like the sound of leaves rustling or waves crashing.