Washington, DC — A new survey of AARP members reveals that nearly half of respondents say that their hearing is getting worse. At the same time, the survey shows that over half of the same AARP respondents with hearing difficulties don’t believe they need treatment.

The survey, conducted by AARP and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), focuses on the state of hearing among Americans 50 years and older. Its goal was to examine AARP members’ attitudes toward hearing, the needs and unmet needs for treating hearing issues, as well as the members’ knowledge of where to go for help.

AARP’s vice president Nicole Duritz commented in the press announcement, "While the survey results indicate that older Americans recognize the impact hearing difficulties can have on relationships with family and friends, people are also going without treatment, which can negatively impact quality of life and lead to safety issues."

The key findings of the survey include:

  • 85% of members surveyed said that maintaining hearing health is of great importance to them personally. And 70% of respondents who said their hearing is excellent also said that they feel younger than their actual age.
  • Over a 5-year period, nearly half (46%) of members surveyed say their hearing is getting worse. And the same percentage (47%) reported having untreated hearing health issues.
  • During that same period of time, the vast majority of members surveyed reported having either a vision test or blood pressure monitoring (88 and 85%, respectively). In comparison, 43% of respondents reported having had a hearing test conducted.
  • More than half (61%) of member respondents indicate that hearing difficulties make it hard to follow conversations in noisy situations. And members point to the impact hearing difficulties can have on relationships with friends and family (44%) or during family gatherings (43%).
  • A majority (57%) of member respondents with untreated hearing difficulties don’t believe their problems warrant treatment.
  • Nearly two-thirds of poll respondents (63%) cite health insurance coverage limitations, concerns about cost, and lack of health insurance as reasons for not getting treatment for hearing difficulties.

"Untreated hearing loss is not a condition to be taken lightly or ignored," said Paul R. Rao, PhD, president of ASHA. "It can lead to social isolation and even depression. And it works against the desire of more and more Americans to stay in the work force. We sincerely hope that one result of our polling with AARP will be that people seek treatment."

The survey also found that nearly 70% of respondents would seek treatment if they felt their hearing issues were affecting their relationships with family and friends. Nearly as many would do so if someone they cared about asked them to seek treatment.

SOURCE: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)