A study by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) documented the effects of hearing loss on the lives of individuals. They surveyed 2,300 people age 50 or older and 2,000 family members to determine their perceptions of the effects of hearing loss and hearing aid use.
According to the NCOA report, more than 10 million Americans over the age of 64 have significant hearing loss. However many in fact, most people with hearing loss have never sought treatment or used hearing aids for their hearing difficulties. The results of the survey provide insight on (1) benefits reported by those who use hearing aids compared to those who don't, and (2) factors that prevent people with significant hearing loss from seeking help.
Hearing aid users report:
Interestingly, family members consistently reported greater improvements in all these areas than did the hearing aid users themselves. That is, the family members appeared to notice even more benefit from hearing aid use than did the person with the hearing loss.
Non-hearing aid users report significantly more negative effects of their hearing loss. Compared to hearing aid users, non-hearing aid users were more likely to report:
These differences were independent of such factors as age, gender and degree of hearing loss.
Barriers to seeking help.
The most frequently reported reason for not using hearing aids was "My hearing isn't bad enough." Even individuals who reported severe hearing difficulties cited this reason. Other commonly reported reasons were "The cost of hearing aids" and the belief that "Hearing aids wouldn't help."
NCOA investigators recommended:
"(We) should encourage older people who are suspected of having a hearing loss to seek appropriate screening, diagnosis and treatment."
If hearing loss is suspected, make an appointment now with your audiologist. A hearing test doesn't hurt and we've yet to hear of anyone complaining that their hearing was found to be normal.
This article was originally submitted by
Dennis Hampton, Ph.D. and subsequently edited by AAC.