Do you experience hearing loss? You may not fully realize it. It can start as subtle miscommunications or having to ask people to repeat themselves regularly. You may struggle to hear the TV at volumes which work for others, or struggle to hear over the phone. The reality of hearing loss increases as we age. It’s the third most common health condition for people over 70 affecting half of all people over 75!
As we age it is important to understand the reality that the risk of hearing loss has increased. However, creating an action plan to address the risk preventatively can make all the difference in how we learn to live with hearing loss. Unaddressed it can impact mood, relationships, mobility, independence, cognitive health, and physical safety so it’s best to create an action plan now!
What is an Action Plan for Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss is often undiagnosed and under addressed. In the United States, one third of people who could benefit from treatment actually receive it. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that while 466 million people currently have hearing loss worldwide, numbers are projected to double in the next thirty years, in part due to lack of education around prevention and treatment. Those who are at risk or already live with a chronic health condition, such as hearing loss should create an action plan, so they know what steps to take. For hearing loss an action plan may outline the steps you can take to address hearing loss—a feat often easier said than done. For hearing loss this can include finding an audiologist who is right for you. We can help come up with an action plan with you, from finding the best hearing aids for you, making sure you actually wear them and creating habits of self-care for your assistive listening devices.
a strategy for ear and hearing care, making health systems better adapted to meet the needs of people with hearing loss and more funding of research on the causes and consequences of hearing loss
Widespread Inaction on Hearing Loss
On average it takes most people seven to ten years from the time you suspect they have a hearing loss to take action. While the most common treatment for hearing loss are hearing aids, unaddressed this can escalate into issues with communication leading to rifts in relationships, decreased confidence, depression, social isolation, cognitive decline leading to higher rates of dementia, earlier and a higher risk of falls leading to hospitalization. Being proactive around treatment with a detailed hearing plan can make a significant impact on reducing some of these damaging health risks to quality of life and longevity.
In Activity Around Hearing Loss
To have a more comprehensive understanding around inaction around hearing loss, the American-Speech- Language -Hearing Association (ASHA) conducted a study of 2,500 people which revealed that:
- 2 in 10 adults have had their hearing tested in the past 5 years in comparison to 6 in 10 adults who have tested their vision.
- More than 51% of people reported having hearing issues while only 11% sought out treatment.
- 78% of those with hearing issues have been experiencing them for 1 or more years, and over 35% have struggled for 5 years or more.
A Coordinated Strategy for Hearing Health
Part of the inaction around hearing loss isn’t on an individual basis but more on an administrative level. For instance when health systems are designed to provide easier access to treatment, people are more likely to address a hearing loss sooner. This can include an annual hearing checkup for at risk groups along with your normal annual checkup from your general practitioner. When services extend across different healthcare professionals and institutions it can create barriers for treatment. Strategies to streamline treatment include:
- Make communication accessible. This means providing patients with accommodations along with hearing treatment across medical institutions to help people with hearing loss communicate clearly.
- Ease in scheduling. Making hearing healthcare appointments should be easy, especially for those with hearing issues.
- Reduce background noise. Healthcare settings tend to be noisy so creating quiet medical environments can increase accessibility for hearing impaired patients.
Do you suspect you have a hearing loss? Don’t wait another day to find out—especially if you are 60 or older! Contact us today to set up a hearing exam with us today. We can create an action plan to stay on top of your hearing health together.