Most of us know someone who speaks a bit louder than normal, listens to the TV at a high volume, or just flat out needs you to yell in order to hear you. Usually it’s an older friend or family member, but anyone can be hard of hearing – whether it’s since birth, the result of an illness or ear injury, or due to years spent in an occupation involving frequent exposure to loud noises or music. And it’s not uncommon; more than 35 million Americans are said to have hearing loss. But how come so few – only about a third – use hearing aids?
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), cost is definitely part of why hearing aid use is not more common. Even the most basic device costs about $1,500 per ear, and most insurance companies don’t cover them – including Medicare. For seniors living on a fixed income, affording hearing aids can be especially difficult.
But even for those who can afford hearing aids, they may still be reluctant to wear them for a couple of reasons. One of the biggest is the lingering social stigma associated with wearing a device. Many view hearing loss as something that only happens to the elderly. These people may be in denial about their hearing loss or prefer to keep it secret by not wearing a visible aid.
The other main reason why people who would benefit from using hearing aids are not utilizing them is because of dissatisfaction with device size and design. However, many people may be thinking of hearing aids from years ago that were clunkier in size and less comfortable to wear than they are now. Today’s hearing aids have come a long way in terms of size, weight, comfort, design, and performance.
With the National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimating that only 1 in 5 people who would benefit from a hearing aid actually wear one, it’s time hearing loss sufferers educate themselves about their options for improved quality of life.
Find a trusted otolaryngologist near you to learn more about whether a hearing aid is for you.
Sources: npr.org, asha.org, and sw.org