‘We Hear You Baltimore’ expands access to hearing care for older adults | GUEST COMMENTARY
As we age, our hearing declines and, for many, it can decline significantly. Almost all of us will experience hearing loss to some degree as we age. But while hearing care is widely available, millions of older adults in this country go without it because it is not easily accessible, and numerous barriers exist.
Navigating the complex health care system requires a great deal of time, mobility, and expertise. And seeking treatment can be expensive. With the average cost of two hearing aids in the U.S. at approximately $4,700, it is not surprising that, of those suffering with hearing loss, just 20% of older white adults regularly use hearing aids. That figure is even lower among minority and lower-income adults.
Left untreated, hearing loss is also associated with an increased risk of falls, dementia and accelerated cognitive decline, among other negative outcomes. As a result, adults with untreated hearing loss incur substantially higher total health care costs than those who don’t — an average of 46%, totaling $22,434 over a decade.
The existing model is clearly not working and should be deemed unacceptable, particularly considering that we know hearing care is a low-risk intervention that may be critical in slowing cognitive decline, reducing health care costs, and ensuring older adults remain vibrant, engaged members of their families and community. Therefore, our organizations have joined forces to address this issue and help ensure low-income older adults in Baltimore receive this essential care to live healthier, happier lives.
Source: The Baltimore Sun written by Darius Graham, Jim Macgill, Carrie Nieman, and Erin Stauder