Hearing Loss: The Economic, Social and Medical Factors Impacting Healthy Aging
National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare Foundation
July 14, 2015
As we age, the ability to communicate becomes an increasingly critical element in maintaining a better quality of life. To remain cognitively and socially engaged with families, friends, and other individuals, seniors with a hearing impairment must have access to effective treatments to help reduce the incidence of social isolation, an important driver of morbidity and mortality in older adults.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders approximately one third of Americans between ages 65 and 74 and nearly half of those over age 75 have hearing loss. Age related hearing loss generally starts with a decrease in the ability to hear high frequency sounds and is a distortion of sound transmission, not a decrease in sound as might be experienced when wearing ear plugs.
Hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic health condition facing older adults. 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, individuals wait more than 10 years after an initial diagnosis to be fitted with their first set of hearing aids.
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