by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A recent study (1) has given more insight into why people with hearing loss don’t bother to get and wear hearing aids. A number of people were given an initial hearing screening. Those that failed the screening, but did not follow up with a full hearing assessment (and go on to get hearing aids) were questioned why they didn’t follow up. Below are their responses. (Note: respondents could give multiple responses, thus the percentages add up to more than 100%.)
- 49% of respondents felt their hearing was still “good enough” and thus they could get by with the hearing they had.
- 28% of respondents felt that other health or family issues had a higher priority.
- 18% of respondents weren’t convinced that a hearing aid would help them.
- 15% of respondents felt that hearing aids were too expensive for them to afford.
- However, a whopping 54% of respondents basically procrastinated and did nothing (undecided, intend to, too busy). Obviously to them hearing better is not a priority in their lives.
Since hearing loss often slowly sneaks up on a person, many people with hearing loss aren’t even aware that they are not hearing as well as they used to. Thus, without a comparison of what normal hearing is really like, they feel that there is nothing wrong with their hearing, or that any hearing loss they might have is so little that it doesn’t significantly affect their lives.
Another interesting thing that came out of this study was that the results of a hearing handicap questionnaire was a better predictor of those who would purchase hearing aids than a pure tone audiogram that showed their actual degree of hearing loss.
For example, people that believed their hearing loss was negatively affecting their lives were more likely to get hearing aids than those that didn’t believe their hearing loss was affecting their lives, irrespective of the actual degree of hearing loss as show by the audiogram.
Thus, if a person with a relatively mild loss believed his hearing loss was negatively affecting his life, he would be more likely to purchase hearing aids than another person with a greater degree of hearing loss who did not believe that hearing loss was affecting his life.
This means that in order to convince a person they need to get their hearing loss attended to, you need to show him how his lack of hearing is negatively affecting his life. In fact, 50% of the people that got hearing aids did so because their hearing loss was causing a lot of stress with family members and friends,
while 35% reported they got hearing aids in order to satisfy their families(1).
Thus ultimately, it boils down to your lifestyle. If you want to be around and interact with people, you are much more amenable to getting hearing aids than if you have a more solitary lifestyle and thus don’t perceive you are missing much.
(1) Medwetsky & Scherer. 2011. Factors Influencing Individuals’ Decisions to Access Hearing Care Services. The Hearing Review. Vol 18, No. 5, May 2011. pp. 24-32.