Age-Related Prejudice Toward Hearing Loss in United States?
A new study published in JAMA suggests age-related prejudice toward hearing loss in the United States—that is, although 98 percent of newborns are now screened for hearing loss, we continue to accept that hearing loss is a normal consequence of aging, despite links to social isolation, depression, and other related health conditions. The study examined four groups of individuals aged 80 years and older and found that despite widespread incidence of hearing loss, only 59 percent of study participants used hearing aids or assistive devices.
“The model of how we deliver hearing health care has to change. We have to change how hearing aids are dispensed, and we have to make them affordable,” says Anil Lalwani, MD, one of the study’s authors. He adds that “there is a greater role for primary care practitioners to play.”
The alarming aspect of this quote, however, is that according to MarkeTrak 9, only 23 percent of individuals who saw their primary care physician had their hearing screened! This despite the fact that, since 2005, the “Welcome to Medicare” Part B initial preventative physical examination provides for pencil-and-paper screening for hearing and balance loss as long as it is done within the first six months of enrollment.
The study also serves as an important reminder to audiologists to raise awareness for the importance of hearing as an important health condition, improve access, and develop a sense of urgency for action!
Kaldy J. (2016) Hearing Loss in Elderly Residents Not Being Adequately Treated, Study Finds. Provider. October 14.