Americans say they believe that their social life and their safety would suffer the most if they had a substantial hearing loss, but think it would have little impact on their sex life or income, according to a new public opinion survey commissioned by HearUSA, West Palm Beach, Fla, a national provider of hearing care and hearing aids.
The survey of 1,000 nationally representative adults, which was conducted for HearUSA by Kelton Research, asked: If you had a significant hearing loss, which do you think would suffer the most?
Social life or relationships with friends: 29%
Family relationships: 13%
Job performance: 12%
Leisure and recreational activities: 9%
Overall Health: 4%
Sex life: 1%
Some other findings of the survey:
• Nearly 40% of older Americans (55-plus) say they believe that their social life and friendships would suffer the most from a hearing loss
• Women are more likely than men to say they their family relationships would suffer the most
• Twice as many parents say they think their family relationships would be most impaired by a hearing loss compared to those respondents without children
“Studies have shown that, left untreated, even mild hearing loss can lead to avoidance of social situations, reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety, diminished overall health, and reduced job performance and earning power," said Stephen Hansbrough, HearUSA chairman and CEO. "Untreated hearing loss can also jeopardize family and intimate relationships.
“Yet, while hearing aids can benefit almost everyone with a hearing loss, they are used by only one in four of the 36 million Americas with a hearing problem," he added.
Hansbrough said that while cost was a major factor, other barriers to greater acceptance of hearing aids were perceived stigma, unfamiliarity with today’s digital hearing aids technology, and a confusing marketplace. “Hearing loss is a major public health issue, and HearUSA believes that hearing care needs to be recognized as a medical necessity and made more affordable, accessible, and accountable,” he said.
HearUSA operates 177 company-owned centers and a network of more than 2,000 hearing care providers. The company is also the administrator of the AARP Hearing Care Program, designed to help millions of Americans aged 50-plus who have hearing loss.