The vast majority of Americans 50 and older who have hearing loss don’t use hearing aids, according to a study published by Johns Hopkins researchers. Hearing loss affects around 26.7 million American’s (50+), but only one in seven use a hearing aid, leaving nearly 23 million without devices.
The study gathered data on hearing-aid use from the 1999-2006 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Although a large population was found not to wear devices, it was found that hearing aid use rose with age, from 4.3 percent of those 50 to 59 years to 22 percent of those 80 and older.
With evidence beginning to surface that associates hearing loss with poor cognitive function and an increased risk of dementia, it has become even more important to determine why people aren’t utilizing hearing instrumentation. One of those reasons, researchers say, is that people avoid hearing aids due to the belief that hearing loss is inevitable.
“There’s still a perception among the public and many medical professionals that hearing loss is an inconsequential part of the aging process and you can’t do anything about it,” researchers stated in a statement released by Johns Hopkins. “We want to turn that idea around.” By utilizing hearing technology the perception of age and not being able to hear can be changed, allowing people of all ages the opportunity to optimize their current level of hearing.
The researchers plan to follow their study with an investigation into the effects of hearing aids and cochlear implants on social, memory and thinking abilities of older adults.