Untreated Hearing Loss Affects Baby Boomers Still in the Workforce
Ernest Hemingway once said, “Retirement is the ugliest word in the language” and in today's society, it is true. Many baby boomers may yearn for retirement, but uncertain finances and healthcare have influenced the need to stay in the workforce longer. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that the percentage of workers between the ages of 65 to 74 is expected to increase by 83.4 percent from 2006 to 2016. But as boomers stay in the workforce longer, untreated hearing loss may sap their incomes and employment.
Research reported by the Better Hearing Institute demonstrated that the use of hearing aids reduces the risk of losing income by 90 to 100 percent for those with mild hearing loss and 65 to 77 for those with moderate to severe hearing loss. Those with moderate to severe hearing loss who use aids are twice as likely to be employed as their peers who do not use.
The verdict seems clear. Boomers with hearing problems “can continue doing their jobs at a satisfactory level if they do obtain hearing aids,” said Robyn Cox, PhD, a professor of audiology at the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Memphis.
Then why are baby boomers not having routine hearing checks and, if they do have hearing loss, use hearing aids? Dr. Cox said she believes the problem is innate in current medical care. “Routine hearing checks are not part of the culture,” she said. “We get all types of checks but neglect our hearing. We have not taught people to realize that hearing needs to be checked.”
Hearing aid use expectedly suffers when Individuals do not receive hearing checks. “Many don't know they have hearing problems,” Dr. Cox said. “Many do, and don't know what to do about it. We have made it difficult to Figure out.”
An effort needs to be made to get baby boomers focused on their hearing, which will not only change the culture surrounding hearing healthcare, but also urge employers, health insurance companies, and primary care physicians to focus on hearing loss. “We haven't produced evidence for who needs to get hearing screenings, so we haven't encouraged people to do it,” Dr. Cox said. “Primary care physicians don't think about hearing care, and health insurance companies don't include hearing checks as preventive measures. When you go get your physical, a doctor should ask about your hearing and maybe, if you are a certain age, require you to get a hearing test.”
Most of the damage has already been done to baby boomers' hearing but, that does not mean it cannot be addressed. The best advice is to be proactive in obtaining hearing healthcare, Dr. Cox said. “People frequently notice hearing problems numerous years before they seek help,” she said. “There is reason to think that the longer they wait, the more difficult it is to make up the ground that gets lost. In general, it would be nice if as people age they would pay attention to their hearing needs just as much as vision needs.”
Source: Hearing Journal, Coleman, Matthew