Hearing health is clearly an important concern, as this study of AARP members suggests, with the majority of respondents saying it is an extremely or very important concern for themselves and other adults ages 50 and older as well as for their friends and family members. Many also reported that their hearing health is extremely or very important to them in maintaining their quality of life.
About half of the respondents reported having untreated hearing issues, citing barriers to treatment such as a belief that one’s hearing is not as good as it should be, but it does not need to be treated, that minor hearing issues are easy enough to live with untreated, or that it is easy to find ways to cover up some hearing difficulty.
Notably, cost concerns also rose to the top in this study of hearing issues, with about three in ten respondents reporting that their health insurance would be insufficient in covering the full cost of treatment or noting that treating hearing issues would be too costly for them.
When it comes to reasons for seeking treatment, however, respondents cited improved quality of life, enhanced mental and physical alertness, and the ability to maintain their independence. Respondents who reported having difficulty hearing also mentioned the negative effect that hearing problems pose for them, including making it harder to follow conversations with friends and family members, causing family gatherings to often be a strain with many people talking at once, and raising concerns about their overall safety.
AARP and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association commissioned Crux Research, Inc. of Honeoye Falls, New York to field a short survey in September 2011 among a sample of 2, 232 AARP members ages 50 and older to learn more about the state of hearing health among the 50+ U.S. population. For more information about this study, please contact Teresa A. Keenan, Ph.D., at 202-434-6274.
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