Hearing health plays a key role in personal health and quality of life, but many people with hearing difficulties don't believe their problems warrant treatment. And, according to a new survey of AARP members, nearly half of survey respondents say their hearing is getting worse.
The survey, conducted by AARP and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) released today, 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.
AARP/American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) National Poll on Hearing Health [PDF]
"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 include:
- 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 (43 percent).
- 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, PhD, 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, please visit www.asha.org/hearing-health/ or http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-12-2011/hearing-issues.html.
Joseph Cerquone, ASHA
David Allen or Jeanne Amy, AARP
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.1 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 145,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems including swallowing disorders.