Even as their hearing loss gets worse, many people lack motivation to seek treatment. That’s one of the findings from a new poll from AARP and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). “Untreated hearing loss…can lead to social isolation and even depression. And it works against the desire of more and more Americans to stay in the workforce,” according to Paul R. Rao, Ph.D., President of ASHA.
For more ear-opening information, see the published report: the AARP/ASHA “National Poll on Hearing Health.” [PDF]
The survey, conducted by AARP and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) released on December 1, 2011, focuses on the state of hearing among Americans 50-plus. It examines attitudes toward hearing, the needs and unmet needs that the 50-plus population has for treating hearing issues and knowledge of where to go for help.
“Maintaining hearing health as one ages is a very important concern among our members,” said AARP Vice President Nicole Duritz. “While the survey results indicate that older Americans recognize the impact hearing difficulties can have on relationships with family and friends, people are also going without treatment, which can negatively impact quality of life and lead to safety issues.”
Key findings from the survey:
• 85 percent of members surveyed said that maintaining hearing health is of great importance to them personally. And 70 percent of respondents who said their hearing is excellent also said that they feel younger than their actual age.
• Over a five-year period, nearly half (46 percent) of members surveyed say their hearing is getting worse. And the same percentage (47 percent) reported having untreated hearing health issues.
• During that same period in time, the vast majority of members surveyed reported either having a vision test or blood pressure monitoring (88 and 85 percent, respectively). In comparison, 43 percent of respondents reported having had a hearing test conducted.
• More than half (61 percent) of member respondents indicate that hearing difficulties make it hard to follow conversations in noisy situations. And members point to the impact hearing difficulties can have on relationships with friends and family (44 percent) or during family gatherings (43percent).
• A majority (57 percent) of member respondents with untreated hearing difficulties don’t believe their problems warrant treatment.
• Nearly two thirds of poll respondents (63 percent) cite health insurance coverage limitations, concerns about cost, and lack of health insurance as reasons for not getting treatment for hearing difficulties.
“Untreated hearing loss is not a condition to be taken lightly or ignored,” according to Paul R. Rao, Ph.D., President of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. “It can lead to social isolation and even depression. And it works against the desire of more and more Americans to stay in the work force. We sincerely hope that one result of our polling with AARP will be that people seek treatment.”
The survey also found that more people will seek help for hearing issues if their issue is linked to their relationships. Nearly 70 percent would seek treatment if they felt their hearing issues were affecting their relationships with family and friends. Nearly as many would do so if someone they cared about asked them to seek treatment.
For more information, visit http://www.asha.org/hearing-health/ or http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-12-2011/hearing-issues.html.