People have many reservations about hearing aids, and sometimes the price tag plays a big role in someone’s hesitancy. That hesitation alone can lead many who have hearing loss to deny that they need a hearing aid. However, there are also other factors in a person’s reluctance to invest in hearing aid technology.
The problem, of course, is that if you have hearing loss—even mild to moderate hearing loss—you won’thear your best without a hearing aid. Many people think that isn’t a problem, and they rely on the common refrain: “I can hear just fine!” A loss of hearing, however,could cost you more than you think.
The Hidden Costs
When asked about the costs of hearing loss, most people cite the cost of a visit to their audiologist, the costs associated with any tests to determine the extent of loss, and the cost of hearing aids. Few people think about the “hidden” costs associated with a loss of hearing. These are the costs associated with day-to-day tasks that become difficult when you experience a loss of hearing as well as the long-term consequences of not helping your hearing, which can lead to negative effects on brain health and function.
Hearing is comparable to vision: Most people with vision loss, even mild to moderate vision loss, will wear corrective lenses. That way they can see—to read a book or a computer screen, or to watch TV or to drive a car. Your hearing is much the same. You use your hearing every day to participate in conversations, to listen to music,to hear the sports commentary on TV, or to hear the noise of oncoming traffic when you cross the road. Even mild to moderate loss impacts your ability to hear important sounds.
How do you measure the cost of losing hearing,then? There are some factors that can be measured. For example, EPIC’s “Listen Hear!” survey suggested that almost 30 percent of full-time employees suspected they had some degree of loss, but did not seek treatment. That’s a large number of people missing out on a large sum of money—studies have suggested that workers with untreated loss of hearing lose up to $30,000 in income annually. Suddenly, the cost of even the most expensive hearing aid doesn’t seem quite that high.
Hearing loss impacts job performance, which accounts for why workers lose so much money when they have an untreated hearing issue. But a loss of hearing also impacts on your health. Research has shown connections between hearing loss and various conditions, including diabetes and heart disease.
Loss of hearing is also connected with cognitive decline and dementia, as well as a greater risk of slips and falls. Finally, it can also affect your mental health—those who leave their hearing untreated are more likely to experience depression.
Quality of Life
Perhaps the largest factor in the real cost of hearing loss is quality of life. Quality of life is more difficult to measure than annual salary or health conditions, but it is a very real factor. Many people with untreated hearing loss experience a decline in their quality of life. People who use hearing aids often report that they feel more engaged and have better interpersonal relationships. They also report more enjoyment from their favorite activities.
The cost of lost hearing isn’t just the price tag on a hearing aid, then, and when everything is factored in, not treating your hearing could actually cost you more than investing in hearing aid technology to help you hear your very best.