Breaking the Silence: How OTC Hearing Aids Help Reduce Loneliness in Adults

For many people, it’s a fantastic time to be alive. Because of the internet, people are more connected than ever before. But according to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, one in four U.S. residents over 65 years of age has no social interaction. None. More than fifty percent of all Americans report they have fewer than three friends with whom they feel close. These trends are not just confined to the United States, but affect people everywhere. Loneliness, the feeling of being alone, regardless of the amount of social contact, is a global phenomenon.

 

The Health Risks of Loneliness

 

Nearly everyone understands the considerable health risks that come with smoking, or high blood pressure or obesity. But few understand that loneliness is a life-threatening risk all its own. The Centers for Disease Control states that loneliness increases your risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke by some thirty percent, and elevates your risk of dementia by a shocking fifty percent.

 

Hearing Loss, Loneliness, and Health

 

Humans are social creatures, and it’s our connections to other people that allow us not only to survive, but thrive. With aging, the gradual loss of social connections with friends or family members can leave many people vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation. For older adults living with hearing loss, these risks are compounded, as the development of hearing loss is quite common as people age, affecting about one third of older adults.

 

Not only does hearing loss bring with it problems communicating with family and friends, understanding doctor’s advice during a visit, or even being able to hear the doorbell or an alarm, but it significantly contributes to loneliness as well. One Dutch study showed that for each decibel decrease in hearing for people under seventy years of age, their odds of becoming severely lonely increased by seven percent. Research done at Johns Hopkins University found that hearing loss is also strongly linked to problems walking, an increased risk of falls, and the development of dementia.

 

OTC Hearing Aids

 

Fortunately, there is something that can be done. Technology has not just given us the internet, but has brought striking new advances in hearing aids as well. In October, 2022, the FDA ruled that OTC (over the counter) hearing aids can now be purchased without a medical exam, a prescription, or a professional fitting by an audiologist. These OTC hearing aids are meant for those people whose perceived hearing loss is mild to moderate, and are considerably less expensive than prescription ones. For the millions of adults suffering from these levels of hearing impairment, this is excellent news, as prior to this ruling, many people who would have greatly benefitted from hearing aids simply could not afford to purchase them.

 

With more and more older adults joining the ranks of people who are intent on living a fulfilling and meaningful life, aging is being embraced, not as something to be feared, but as a time of limitless opportunity, adventure, and personal growth. Of course, some bodily changes are inevitable due to aging, but with the ready availability of OTC hearing aids, having to live with the consequences of hearing loss is not one of them!

 

References

Donovan NJ, Blazer D. Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults: Review and Commentary of a National Academies Report. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2020;28(12):1233-1244. doi:10.1016/j.jagp.2020.08.005

Shukla A, Harper M, Pedersen E, et al. Hearing Loss, Loneliness, and Social Isolation: A Systematic Review. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2020;162(5):622-633. doi:10.1177/0194599820910377

Alison R. Huang, Kening Jiang, Frank R. Lin, Jennifer A. Deal, Nicholas S. Reed. Hearing Loss and Dementia Prevalence in Older Adults in the US. JAMA, 2023; 329 (2): 171 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2022.20954

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HearYou Legend One

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Suited to

Mild to moderate hearing loss.

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Targets

Struggles with hearing in noise.
Finds it hard following conversations.
Experiences fatigue from listening.
Needs high volume on TV/radio.

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