Insurance Update
May 2014
Issue No. 46     
In this issue
May is Better Hearing and Speech Month
Month of May: Better Hearing and Speech Month
Treatment produces results
Long-Term Care Insurance

Hearing Loss -- It's a Family Affair

Learn answers to some frequently asked questions about hearing loss. 



About Us 

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 A not-for-profit ministry of
Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust Inc.

Church of the Brethren Insurance Services provides ancillary coverage for ministers and other employees of congregations, districts, and camps.
Medical and ancillary plans are available to Brethren-affiliated employer groups.
Long-Term Care Insurance is available for all members of the Church of the Brethren, their family and friends, and employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities.  
Contact Us 
1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120



Greetings from the Brethren Insurance Services staff.


Did you know that the month of May has 37 different emphases: from Asia Pacific American Heritage to Tuberous Sclerosis Awareness? Many are related to health and wellness, so May offers a goldmine of themes.


But there is one that touches all of us. May is Better Hearing and Speech Month. Many of us know someone with a hearing or speech impairment -- a beloved family member with hearing loss or with difficulty speaking because of a stroke, or a child who has a speech impediment. Some of you reading these words may struggle with an impairment. Read more below. 


May is a lovely month. The beauty of God's creation is opening to us. We can hear birdsong in the trees and soft spring winds. Let us remember what a gift it is to hear the "important sounds of life."


SignaturesScott, Tammy, and Connie 
hearingMonth of May: Better Hearing and Speech Month
For over 75 years, May has been designated as Better Hearing and Speech Month -- a time to raise public awareness, knowledge, and understanding of the various forms of communication impairment including disabilities of hearing, speech, language, and voice. Many who are affected by communication impairments are among the most vulnerable in our society -- the young, the aged, the disabled, and the poor.


Helen Keller once noted that of all her impairments, she was troubled most by her lack of speech and hearing. While blindness separated her from things, her lack of speech and hearing separated her from people.

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that approximately 43 million people in the United States suffer from a speech, voice, language, or hearing impairment. Almost 28 million have hearing loss. Approximately 10 percent of children have moderate to severe communication impairments. These children are 4 to 5 times more likely than their peers to experience other language-learning disabilities including significant reading problems.



Nearly all 28 million Americans with hearing loss can be treated; yet fewer than 7 million use a hearing aid. You or a friend or family member could be one of these. Now is a good time to take stock and seek help if you think you may have a problem.


Ask these questions of yourself or your friend or family member. Do you:

  • frequently ask people to repeat themselves?
  • often turn your ear toward a sound to hear it better?
  • understand people better when you wear your glasses or look directly at their faces?
  • lose your place in group conversations?
  • keep the volume on your radio or TV at a level that others say is too loud?
  • have pain or ringing in your ears?
"People who see themselves in these statements should see an audiologist for a hearing test," said Dr. Jerry Punch of the Department of Communicative Sciences & Disorders, and the Oyer Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic at Michigan State University. "Even a very slight hearing loss can have an impact on your daily life," said Dr. Punch. "Hearing loss is treatable, and there is no reason for anyone to miss all the important sounds of life."



Speech and language disorders take many forms. They may be a condition from birth, arise from learning difficulties, or be the result of accidental injury or illness at any age. Speech and language disorders can limit academic achievement, social adjustment, and career advancement.


"Fortunately, most people with speech and language problems can be helped," said Dr. Michael W. Casby, of the Department of Communicative Sciences & Disorders, and Oyer Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic. "Even if the problem cannot be eliminated, we can teach people with speech and language problems strategies to help them cope. People may not fully develop or regain their capacity to speak and understand, but a speech-language pathologist can help them achieve an improved quality of life."

Adapted from an article on the Michigan State University website, 

Tip for Brethren Medical Plan members --

Speech and hearing benefits are covered through the Brethren Medical Plan. Please check your coverage booklet, or contact Brethren Insurance Services for more information.

strokeTreatment produces results     

A stroke happens when a clogged or burst artery interrupts blood flow to the brain. This deprives the brain of needed oxygen and causes the affected brain cells to die. When these cells die, function of the body parts they control is impaired or lost.


Strokes can have a variety of effects: paralysis or muscle weakness, loss of feeling, speech and language problems, memory and reasoning problems, swallowing difficulties, problems of vision and visual perception.


But language deficits are especially discouraging. Here are some of the ways a stroke can significantly impair a person's ability to communicate. These deficits vary depending on the extent and location of the damage --

  • Difficulty sequencing thoughts together to tell a story.
  • Switching topics without warning, or seeming to "go off on tangents" without informing the listener.
  • Difficulty taking turns in conversation.
  • Problems maintaining a topic of conversation.
  • Trouble using an appropriate tone of voice.
  • Difficulties interpreting the subtleties of conversation (e.g., sarcasm, humor).
  • Problems "keeping up" with others in a fast-paced interaction.
  • Reacting inappropriately; seeming overemotional (overreacting), impulsive, or "flat" (without emotional affect).
  • Having little to no self-awareness of inappropriate actions or responses.

Oral motor functioning is sometimes affected by a stroke. The following problems may occur --

  • Muscles of the lips and tongue may be weaker or less coordinated.
  • Speech may not be clear.
  • Breathing muscles may be weaker, affecting the patient's ability to speak loudly enough to be heard in conversation.

This list is daunting. These are serious and dispiriting disabilities. But the good news is that treatment can produce results. Studies show that people who receive 8-10 hours of treatment each week for 8 to 12 weeks make significant improvement in both the quality and the quantity of their language.


Clinicians and researchers now understand that positive changes can also occur long after the stroke, dispelling the notion that the language rehabilitation undertaken only very soon after the stroke makes the biggest difference.


Many of us know someone who has had a stroke. Even more to the point, it could happen to any one of us. So remember: there is hope; rehabilitation can work; people can regain much that they lose.


This article is based on information from The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association,

 LTCILong-Term Care Insurance

Mistakes to avoid when buying long-term care insurance


Should I buy long-term care insurance? The decision has never been more difficult. According to researchers at Georgetown University and Pennsylvania State University, about 70 percent of individuals 65 and older will need long-term care -- whether at home or in an assisted-living facility or nursing home. At the same time, however, the price of long-term care insurance keeps going up. Here are mistakes consumers commonly make when purchasing long-term care insurance.

  1. Waiting too long to buy.  
  2. Buying on price alone.
  3. Overlooking shared benefits.
  4. Underestimating inflation.
  5. Failing to read the fine print.

Avoid these mistakes. Let Randy Yoder help you discern whether long-term care insurance is for you. Brethren Insurance Services offers long-term care insurance for all members and employees of the Church of the Brethren and their family and friends; and also for employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities and their families and friends.


Contact Brethren Insurance Services at or 800-746-1505 for a free, no-obligation proposal or click here to request more information.

Excerpts from The Wall Street Journal, article by Anne Tergesen, April 13, 2014