Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in the United States, affecting more than 34 million Americans over the age of 50. Despite that large incidence, three out of five people with hearing loss do not use hearing aids. A study by the National Council on the Aging found that denial, cost, and vanity are the biggest barriers to the use of hearing aids.
A survey of hearing-impaired adults age 50 and older found that those with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia and were less likely to participate in organized social activities, compared to those who wear hearing aids.
The survey also found that significantly more of the older adults with hearing loss that do not wear hearing aids reported feelings of sadness or depression that lasted two or more weeks during the previous year. Non-users of hearing aids were more likely to think that other people get angry with them for no reason.
The study also examined social behavior and found that people that don’t use hearing aids are significantly less likely to participate in social activities. Of those with more severe hearing loss, 42% of hearing aid users participate regularly in social activities compared to just 32% of non-users of hearing aids.
Hearing aid users reported significant improvements in many areas of their lives, including relationships at home, feelings about self, relationships with children and grandchildren, mental health, self-confidence, sense of safety, relationships at work, and independence in their social lives. The families of hearing-aid users also noted improvements and were even more likely than the users to report the improvements.
Encourage those with difficulty hearing to see an audiologist for an evaluation and discussion of hearing aid options.