Why Only 1 in 6 Americans with Hearing Loss Wears Hearing Aids

man with hearing aid uses mobile phone

by Cara Everett, MS, RDN, LDN for the National Council on Aging

Hearing loss is a common condition in older adults, affecting 68% of Americans in their 70s and 90% in their 80s and older. It not only limits a person’s ability to communicate, but also increases the risk of significant health conditions, like dementia, depression, and anxiety.

In contrast to vision problems, which are readily addressed with glasses or contacts (statistics show 75% of American adults use some form of vision correction), hearing aid use in America is surprisingly low. Given the importance of hearing health and the fact hearing loss is becoming more prevalent due to an aging U.S. population, it’s surprising that among adults age 20–69 who need hearing aids, only one in six use them. With a high incidence of hearing loss and the associated health risks, why aren’t more Americans seeking treatment?

  1. We underestimate the importance of hearing health
  2. We’re not getting our hearing tested
  3. Hearing aids are expensive
  4. Access to health care is limited
  5. We have high expectations

With consistent use, hearing aids may improve cognitive health and increase the activity of sound-processing pathways in the brain. But what many consumers aren’t aware of: the full benefits of hearing aids, you must wear them consistently, for as long as possible each day.

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