Are hearing screenings promoted or offered as part of your wellness programs? Screenings are included for occupational health when there is a risk of noise exposure. However, recent research indicates that the longer someone postpones being tested, the less well hearing aids work. The aids are better when the hearing loss is mild. There are three concerns.
One concern is that uncorrected hearing loss – even mild – can lead to social isolation, loneliness and depression.
Second, the uncorrected loss also may accelerate cognitive decline.
The third concern is that hearing requires a message from the ear to brain AND ALSO for the brain to interpret the sound. That section of the brain, the part that allows processing the electrical signal, declines when not used. Sadly, only 1 in 7 hearing impaired people use a hearing aid.
Emerging evidence indicates that hearing aids can slow cognitive decline in individuals who are hearing impaired. And early use increases adjustment as well as effective communication.
Of course, there are barriers, not just the stigma of wearing aids (which are now quite small and invisible!), but the cost since hearing aids are not covered by insurance. An over-the-counter hearing aid used in other countries may soon be available in the USA and will not require a prescription. This should help!