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Elderly reluctant to have hearing checked

Many elderly people seek medical attention for their hearing loss only after being prodded by family or friends.

A Dutch study indicated that a majority of elderly people whose hearing was checked went to the doctor after others complained about their bad hearing.

Three out of every four elderly seeking help reported that acquaintances had complained about their hearing or suggested outright that they get hearing aids. Among hearing impaired elderly who never went in for a hearing check only about half received such encouragement from friends or relatives.

A minority of hearing impaired elderly people take advantage of the help offered by wearing hearing aids. According to the study, just one in four hearing impaired person over the age of 55 years used a hearing aid. Among those who did not use a hearing aid, 6 in 10 never sought help for their hearing loss even though half of them recognized that their hearing was bad.

Skepticism towards hearing aids is common among elderly people whether or not they have sought help. In either group, 4 people out of 5 were unwilling to consider using a hearing aid. 60 percent believed that there were too many drawbacks associated with using hearing aids.

The degree of hearing loss also affected the desire to consult a doctor about the problem. Two thirds of the hearing impaired people seeking help found that their hearing loss presented significant problems in their daily lives whereas the same was the case for just one third of those choosing not to seek help.

The study included 1,419 individuals. It found that one in three over the age of 55 years had a hearing loss in excess 30 dB.

Source: Help-seeking Behaviour for Hearing Impaired Persons Aged > 55 Years; Effect of Complaints, Significant Others and Hearing Aid Image, Acta otolaryngologica 2003, No. 123.



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