Seniors hearing loss statistics are grim.
According to the National Institute on Deafness (NIDCD), hearing loss in seniors is one of the most common conditions affecting elderly adults. Approximately 33% of seniors between the ages of 65 and 74 suffer from hearing loss, and 50% of seniors aged 75+ have difficulty hearing.
Hearing loss impairs their quality of life. It is difficult for them to hear and follow a doctor’s instructions, respond to warnings, or hear alarms and bells. Furthermore, it ruins family and friends social interaction. Overall, hearing loss becomes frustrating, embarrassing, and even dangerous.
Seniors Hearing Loss: Consequences
Two recent studies indicate that hearing loss translates into higher medical bills and other health problems for many seniors.
In one study, researchers analyzed data from 77,000 United States patients with untreated age-related hearing loss. Their results were compared to seniors without hearing loss.
The average total health care costs for the seniors with hearing loss were 46 percent higher over 10 years. In dollars, this amounted to $22,000 per person, with the health plan paying $20,000 of that amount.
In addition, over 10 years, seniors with untreated hearing loss had 50 percent more hospital stays and a 44 percent higher risk for hospital readmission within 30 days.
Moreover, their emergency department visits were 17% higher. Overall, they had 52 more outpatient visits compared to those without hearing loss.
Seniors Hearing Loss: It’s Not Only The Hearing
If it only was just hearing loss for the senior population. But, unfortunately, it’s not. Loss of hearing in seniors cascades and connects into other serious health issues. For example, over 10 years, seniors with untreated hearing loss had a 50 percent greater risk of dementia, and a 40 percent greater risk of depression.
And they also had a 30 percent higher risk for falls than those without hearing loss, the second study found.
The soaring health costs should be a call to action for health insurers to improve their services.
For the fact is, that hearing loss may precipitate additional serious chronic illnesses. The total health care costs are exorbitant. It’s important to find out if hearing loss treatment for seniors could reduce their risks for other chronic illnesses.