Hearing loss is the most common health condition that older adults live with today. An estimated 1 in 3 adults, ages 65-74 have hearing loss. This increases to 1 in 2, or half of all adults, 75 and older who have disabling hearing loss. Though impaired hearing is pervasive, it still remains widely undertreated. Only a third of people who could benefit from treatment, actually receive it. This highlights that many people live with untreated hearing loss which not only affects hearing but relationships, social life, and overall health. It is useful to understand why treatment is often avoided so that you can better prioritize your hearing health.
Hearing Loss is Widely Undertreated
Hearing loss tends to be widely undertreated. Extensive research shows that there is widespread inaction when it comes to hearing loss. This includes a recent study conducted by the American- Speech -Language -Hearing-Association (ASHA). Researchers surveyed over 2,000 adults and found that:
- More than 51% of all adults reported having hearing problems, but only 11% have sought treatment.
- More than 78% of those with hearing problems have experienced them for 1 or more years. Over 35% have had trouble for 5 or more years.
- 2 in 10 adults have had a hearing test in the past 5 years, compared with 6 in 10 who have had their vision tested.
This data reveals that even when hearing loss symptoms are experienced for a substantial amount of time, it is common for people to not address them. These findings and further research shows that hearing health generally is not prioritized.
Understanding Why Treatment is Avoided
It takes an average of 7 years for people to treat their hearing loss. You may be wondering: if untreated hearing loss can take a toll on health, why is it still so undertreated? Well, there are a few reasons that help us understand why people tend to avoid treatment, this includes:
- Misconceptions: there are numerous misconceptions about hearing loss that tend to minimize the condition. This includes that it only impacts older adults, it can be cured, if you can still hear then your hearing is fine, because it is not fatal then it can be dealt with later etc. But hearing loss is actually permanent and the larger symptoms remain ignored, the worse symptoms can become. Also, untreated hearing loss can increase health risks and also take a toll on relationships and many facets of everyday life. Lastly, people of all ages are impacted by hearing loss and can benefit from treatment.
- Stigma: though hearing loss is common, there still tends to be stigma associated with it. It can be tough for people to acknowledge changes to their health and to share this with others. People may feel embarrassed, preventing them from intervening and addressing symptoms.
- Cost: another barrier to hearing loss treatment is cost. Insurance does not cover all services and costs related to hearing health. This can deter people from prioritizing their hearing health, causing people to wait until hearing loss is more severe to intervene. It is important to know that you can work with your hearing healthcare provider to establish and stay within a budget. There are also cost effective approaches that they can support you with.
Though confronting hearing loss can be overwhelming, it is useful to know that there are so many resources and services that you can access to support your hearing health.
Scheduling a Hearing Test
The first step towards treatment is simple: schedule an appointment for a hearing test. Hearing tests involve a painless process that thoroughly measures your hearing capacities in both ears. This identifies any hearing loss and the degree of impairment you are experiencing. Once your hearing needs are established, your hearing healthcare provider is able to tailor treatment to meet your specific hearing needs. There are effective ways that hearing loss is treated which transform hearing health. Treating hearing loss not only improves hearing but also strengthens communication, relationships, and overall health. Treatment allows people to live active lives that they can fully enjoy and engage in.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation!