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Losing Your Hearing? You Need a Treatment Plan

separator According to the National Council on Aging, about 28 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss, yet only 6 million are receiving treatment. It seems that in a way, hearing loss has something in common with arthritis. As people get older, they often believe they have to learn to live with things like joint pain and the inability to hear what’s going on around them. What they don’t realize is that not treating hearing loss can actually lead to other health consequences.

Emotional, social consequences
In 1999, a study conducted by the Seniors Research Group looked at 2,300 hearing impaired adults age 50 or older. It compared hearing aid users to those who did not use hearing aids. Results showed that those with untreated hearing loss were more likely to suffer from

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia

Additionally, they were less likely to interact socially with friends and family, and there tended to be tension among family members more often.

Maintaining social contact with friends and loved ones is important at any age. Many studies have shown that people who are socially isolated do not heal as well after surgical procedures, do not recover from illness as quickly and are more likely to suffer from depression.

Barriers to treatment
The Seniors Research Group study identified three main barriers to getting treatment for hearing loss:

  • Denial
  • Cost
  • Vanity

Two-thirds of the people who didn’t wear hearing aids claimed that their hearing wasn’t bad enough to get a hearing aid. About half of them said that hearing aids would be too expensive. One in five of them said that wearing hearing aids would make them feel too old.

Benefits of treatment
People who begin to wear hearing aids tend to stop feeling the anxiety, paranoia and depression that had become part of their daily existence. They start to feel more plugged in to what’s gong on around them. Relationships with loved ones improve. In the Seniors Research Group study, people wearing hearing aids reported improvements in

  • Relations at home
  • Feelings about themselves
  • Self-confidence
  • Relations with children and grandchildren
  • Sense of safety
  • Sex life

Choosing the right person for your hearing care
When you go for your routine checkups, ask your doctor to check your hearing. This is the best way to determine whether your hearing warrants a hearing aid.

Once you’ve decided to go ahead and get a hearing aid, be sure to find the right person to help you. Professionals who provide hearing care and sell hearing aids are called “hearing aid dispensers.” Talk with several of them before choosing the one you’ll work with. Ask about

  • Their education
  • The services they provide
  • The follow-up care you’ll receive
  • What it will cost for all the services they provide, and what the hearing aids will cost

Be sure they have hearing aids from several different manufacturers, because you’ll want to have several options. These professional can also give you advice about how to cover the cost of the hearing aids.

American Association of Retired Persons; National Council on Aging; Seniors Research Group
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