When you think about age-related hearing loss, what comes to mind? For some of us, we can recall an experience with an elder family member who gradually struggled to hear clearly in conversations. Others of us might think of the visible hearing aids that were so common in the past. Still others of us might immediately think about that common question, “What was that?”
Although these associations might be true in some cases, the reality is that most people who are lucky enough to reach old age will incur some form of age-related hearing loss. Some experiences of age-related hearing loss remain mild, not requiring hearing aids, but approximately two thirds of people beyond the age of 70 can benefit from hearing assistance.
That being the case, why do less than 20% of those people follow through and get hearing aids? A few reasons can explain that vast difference between the common experience of hearing loss and the historically low proportion of people who get them. Let’s take a few of these explanations one-by-one to understand what can be done to bring more people into the group who get the assistance they need.
Undiagnosed Hearing Loss
One of the biggest explanations for the low percentage of people with age-related hearing loss who actually get assistance has to do with diagnosis. Without a hearing test, many people with hearing loss don’t even realize that they are struggling to hear in some situations. Particularly when the progression of loss is quite gradual, it is possible not to notice how much hearing ability has reduced over the years. Some people truly do not realize that hearing aids could be helpful for the situations in which they do notice a struggle to hear, chalking it up to an inevitability of old age. Although a majority of older people do develop age-related hearing loss, that doesn’t mean that they need to stay that way.
Resistance to Treatment
Beyond those who don’t really know that they have hearing loss, another large group have some kind of resistance to treatment. The reasons for resisting hearing loss treatment are as multifaceted as the individual mind and personality, but a few common themes come up in conversations with people who have this kind of response. Some think that these aids will make other people treat them differently. They don’t want to be viewed as needing assistance or unable to take care of themselves. It is true that some people make false assumptions about people with hearing aids, assuming that they are no longer able to live independently, but false beliefs should be no reason to miss out on assistance.
Others think that hearing aids are not worth the investment, but the vast majority of people who get hearing aids feel otherwise. Still others are concerned with the functionality of hearing aids, making assumptions based on older models. Although hearing aids are not guaranteed to solve all the hearing-related problems for all wearers, the technological advances of hearing assistive devices are so great that most people are surprised by how much they can do.
Putting Off the First Step
Though some people don’t realize they have hearing loss and others resist getting the help they deserve, still others simply put off taking the first step in the direction of assistance. Whether that has to do with a busy schedule, forgetfulness, or pure procrastination, this last reason is one of the most difficult to justify.
With the many benefits afforded by hearing assistance, it is more likely to make your busy lifestyle easier to manage than to become a burden! If you or someone you love has age-related hearing loss but has not received assistance due to these or other reasons, the first step is simple: scheduling a hearing test.
With a proper diagnosis of hearing ability, we can pair you with the right set of hearing aids to suit your individual hearing needs and lifestyle. Once you get connected to hearing assistance, you might be surprised at the vast improvement to your communication ability, relationships, and everyday activities. As hearing assistive technology continues to develop, we can help you take the plunge into an exciting new engagement with the sounding world.
If you think you can benefit from hearing loss treatment, we’re here to help! Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing test.