Many older adults with severe hearing loss don't have hearing aids, a new study finds -- but those who have gotten one are less likely to use costly services
In the new paper in JAMA Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery, a team from the University of Michigan reports what they found after examining data from 1,336 adults ages 65 to 85 who reported they had severe hearing loss.
Strikingly, the researchers found that only 45 percent of those in the study actually use a hearing aid - despite having serious difficulty hearing. The rate is lower still among those with low incomes or less education, those who are African American or Hispanic, and those who live in Southern U.S.
After the researchers factored out those differences, they found that older adults who had a hearing aid were less likely to have gone to the hospital or emergency room in the last year. The difference was about two percentage points - not a major difference but large enough to be significant.
In addition, those who had been hospitalized and had a hearing aid had shorter stays than those who didn't have a hearing aid - averaging a half of a day less in the hospital.