Despite the fact hearing aids have been linked to healthier relationships, improved work performance and better overall quality of life, only about 20 percent of people who could benefit from a hearing aid actually wears one. In addition, even the people who do seek treatment wait about seven years after being diagnosed to do so. Experts have looked into why this may be the case.
Why Do People Delay Hearing Treatment?
Hearing loss is a progressive condition, meaning it develops gradually over time, which is why experts theorize that many people simply don’t notice they have a hearing problem. This is why regular screenings (every three years after age 50) are essential.
Another hypothesis for why people delay treatment is because there is a stigma around hearing loss. A 2018 study of older adults with hearing loss found that participants felt ashamed about having hearing loss and believed others saw them as “stupid.” This is supported by a Consumer Reports survey, where 18 percent of respondents said they delayed getting hearing aids because they felt embarrassed. Other reasons for the delay cited in the survey include:
- Cost of hearing aids (42%)
- Haven’t had a hearing test (26%)
- Physical discomfort when wearing hearing aids (12%)
- Friend or family member didn’t like their hearing aids (10%)
What Are the Risks of Delaying Treatment?
Untreated hearing loss has many risks.
A study published in 2018 in Jama Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery found that adults with hearing loss over age 50 are 30 percent more likely to experience a fall, 40 percent more likely to be depressed and 50 percent more likely to develop dementia over a 10-year period than their normal-hearing peers.
Another study, published in 2017, found that untreated hearing loss can lead to loneliness and frustration, and can take a serious toll on relationships.
Benefits of Hearing Aids
Many people who delay seeking treatment for hearing loss are unaware of the benefits and features of today’s hearing aids. Hearing aids are no longer the large, clunky devices your parents or grandparents wore; they are sleek and compact and packed with amazing features such as:
- Rechargeable batteries
- Automatic noise adjustments
- Smartphone compatibility
- Multiple programs for multiple environments
- Tinnitus masking
- Advanced microphone features
If you’re ready to take the next step in your hearing journey, call the experts today at Hearing Health Centers.