We previously mentioned that only 20% of hearing impaired, middle-aged people in the UK and 25% in the US use hearing aids, which made us wonder why they have such a low adoption rate.
Well, it turns out that a large reason is that people simply do not get tested for hearing aids in the first place—but why?
Hearing aids vs. Eyeglasses
Like eyesight, hearing gradually deteriorates, especially as you get older. Hearing loss over time, to a certain extent, is a part of the natural aging process.
If it’s only natural for both senses to dull, then why are people more willing to test their eyesight and get prescriptions for eyeglasses more than they are to test their hearing? This could be because eyesight is our primary sense for viewing and perceiving the world around us.
Without good vision, we feel more lost than we are without perfect hearing. However, hearing deserves more credit than we give it. Through hearing, we perceive emotion, subtleties in language, and intonation, and it provides the intimacy of an experience that vision alone doesn’t provide.
Try watching a movie or TV drama in closed captions only and then with sound. Doesn’t the movie soundtrack or suspenseful creak of floorboards provide a much more fulfilling experience than simply reading [sound of floorboards creaking]?
Hearing Aids Are More Important Than You May Think
Understandably, mistaking the word “trash” for “cash” or having to read closed captions may not seem like dire enough situations to warrant shelling out thousands of dollars for hearing aids. However, simply attributing hearing loss to the natural aging process and subsequently avoiding getting tested is more dangerous than you probably think it is.
The ear plays the main role in controlling your balance, according to Dr. Frank Lin at Johns Hopkins University, who has found that “even mild hearing loss can triple the risk of falling.” Hearing loss has also been linked to depression caused by social isolation and has recently been linked to dementia due to the reduction of brain activity in the auditory cortex.
Often, people don’t even notice that their hearing has deteriorated to the point where they need hearing aids, since it’s such a gradual process that usually occurs over the course of years.
In fact, Dr. Eric Hagberg, president of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology, notes that although that average person reports having hearing issues for a only a few months, they’ve really had the problem for seven to ten years.
Denial of hearing impairment, the steep cost of hearing aids, and the social stigma of wearing them are the most common reasons why people simply don’t get tested for hearing aids.
However, with affordable hearing aids, significantly less than the thousands of dollars people traditionally pay for them, currently available on the market that are unnoticeably small, the benefits of getting tested for hearing aids, including less risk for depression and dementia, definitely outweigh the cost.