According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 36 million Americans have a hearing loss—this includes 17% of our adult population. The incidence of hearing loss increases with age. Approximately one third of Americans between ages 65 and 74 and nearly half of those over age 75 have hearing loss. Hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic health condition facing older but unfortunately, only 20% of those individuals who might benefit from treatment actually seek help. Most tend to delay treatment until they cannot communicate even in the best of listening situations. On average, hearing aid users wait over 10 years after their initial diagnosis to be fit with their first set of hearing aids
Impact of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is an individual experience, and how the individual copes will depend on a great many factors, including early versus late onset, the progressive nature of the loss (gradual vs. sudden), the severity of the loss, communication demands, and personality. Regardless of the combination of these presenting factors, hearing loss has been linked to feelings of depression, anxiety, frustration, social isolation, and fatigue.
Hearing Loss and Depression
Researchers from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health, have found a strong association between hearing impairment and depression among U.S. adults of all ages. The findings are based on self-reports of hearing loss among adults ages 18 or older along with a standard questionnaire to assess depression based on the frequency and severity of symptoms. Adults 70 or older were also tested for hearing loss. The prevalence of moderate to severe depression was higher among U.S. adults aged 18 or older with self-reported hearing impairment compared to those without hearing impairment. Among patients 70 years or older, self-reported hearing loss was not associated with depression, however, patients whose hearing tests revealed moderate hearing loss were more likely to be depressed than those who did not have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss and Dementia
Dr. Frank Lin and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins University found a strong link between degree of hearing loss and risk of developing dementia. Individuals with mild hearing loss were twice as likely to develop dementia as those with normal hearing, those with moderate hearing loss were three times more likely, and those with severe hearing loss had five times the risk.
Barriers to Hearing Aid Use
It’s important to address why there are so many seniors who do not treat their hearing when the health risks are so catastrophic. More than two-thirds of the older, non-user respondents said “my hearing is not bad enough” or “I can get along without one.” About one-half of the non-users cited the cost of hearing aids. And one-in-five offered the explanation that “it would make me feel old,” or “I’m too embarrassed to wear one.”
Benefits of Treatment
Healthy hearing supported by hearing aids results in positive health outcomes, increases social engagement, improves communication, and lowers the risk of depression. After reviewing the consequences of hearing loss, it is apparent that quality of life can decrease when the sense of hearing is impaired. However, it is also important to understand how much can be gained when hearing health is present. It is said that communication is the foundation of relationships. Good hearing health eliminates the frustration of missing out on conversations and being isolated from social situations. Hearing health is also thought to have positive benefits on brain functioning, such as memory, as well as other physical health benefits and good hearing creates independence and security.
Hearing Care Centers
If you have been putting off dealing with hearing loss, don’t delay a moment longer. Contact us at Hearing Care Centers to set up a hearing test and invest healthy hearing and a healthy life.