Discuss how older people have more difficulties accessing hearing care services and offer tips for support.
Everything gets a little more difficult the older we get, especially when we reach bona fide senior citizen status. For many of us, mobility is restricted, our eyesight needs a little extra help, our hearing starts to decline, and our financial stability becomes a little more restrictive as well. When we find ourselves in these situations, extra care needs to be taken to ensure older people have access to the care and support they need.
Of particular concern is access to hearing health services among older populations with limited incomes. Reporting indicates older people, in particular, have less access to the hearing healthcare they need due to their lower income.
According to a recent study, 27% of Medicare and Medicaid recipients reported having difficulty hearing with a hearing aid as opposed to just 11% of those who received medical care in a higher income category. This statistic is an indication that hearing health care is not just about hearing aids; it involves quality comprehensive care that takes the whole patient in mind.
Two-thirds of US adults age 70 and above live with hearing loss. Their hearing loss has profound effects on their quality of life, resulting in depression, dementia and an increased risk of accidents. Unfortunately, the most significant detrimental factor to senior citizen hearing health is the restrictions put on Medicare for hearing aids and hearing health coverage. According to HearingReview.com, most adults do not wear hearing aids since the devices themselves and the services needed to dispense and fit them properly are not covered.
There is some partial relief in sight thanks to the Hearing Aid Act of 2017, which by 2020 will allow people to purchase hearing aids over the counter. Unfortunately, services to assess proper hearing aids and fitting will still not be available at a low cost or with insured coverage.
Access to adequate hearing health services is a consistent problem that has not yet been addressed within the lower income community, especially among Medicare recipients.
How You Can Help
Even those who do have access to adequate support don’t always utilize it because of mobility issues. Here are a few helpful tips if you know or love someone who is need of proper hearing healthcare in their golden years.
Help your senior citizen purchase the right over the counter solution by educating yourself on available options and assessing which solution might best fit their needs.
There are many publicly available hearing healthcare services at reduced costs. Likewise, some programs offer to cover the cost of examinations so that seniors can get assessed adequately for hearing aids and other assistive listening devices.
If someone you know or love already has a hearing aid, make sure they are maintaining it properly. Supply plenty of batteries and check them regularly. Provide an easily noticeable hearing aid case so that the hearing aids do not become quickly lost.