For seniors, untreated hearing loss causes additional costs to Medicare and other health programs, due to loss of independence, social isolation, depression, safety issues, and decreased quality of life. The Senate Special Committee on Aging, in S. Rpt. 107-74, noted: “As the wave of seniors begins to experience age-related disability, our current long term care system will not be able to support this demographic shift.” Hearing aids enable seniors to retain their independence and avoid other long-term care costs.

In 1999, the National Council on the Aging (NCOA), in collaboration with the Hearing Industries Association (HIA), conducted the largest known study on the effects of untreated hearing loss among adults and their families. The study quantified both the negative results of untreated hearing loss and the positive impact of hearing instruments on an individual’s quality of life. This research clearly associated hearing aids with impressive improvements in the social, emotional, psychological, and physical well-being of people with hearing loss in all hearing loss categories from mild to severe. Specifically, the data positively related hearing aid usage to the following quality of life issues. Hearing loss treatment was shown to improve:

  • Earning power
  • Communication in relationships
  • Intimacy and warmth in family relationships
  • Ease in communication
  • Emotional stability
  • Sense of control over life events
  • Perception of mental functioning
  • Physical health
  • Group social participation

And, just as important, hearing loss treatment was shown to reduce:

  • Discrimination toward the person with the hearing loss
  • Hearing loss compensation behaviors (i.e., pretending you hear)
  • Anger and frustration in relationships
  • Depression and depressive symptoms
  • Feelings of paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Social phobias
  • Self-criticism