The number of baby boomers experiencing hearing loss today is outpacing previous statistics. A survey issued by the Better Hearing Institute estimated that roughly 1 in every 6 baby boomers lives with some form of hearing loss.
When’s the last time you had your hearing checked? There are a number of reasons and risk factors that have contributed to the steady rise of hearing loss cases among boomers. Lack of regular hearing testing is one of them.
Another factor is a lack of awareness for proper hearing care/protection. There is also an aging workforce, actively working with more years of exposure to louder environments.
Baby Boomer Hearing Loss Statistics
Hearing loss is having a serious effect on baby boomers. With more cases than any previous generation, what is happening to our ears? It all comes down to the statistics.
The Better Hearing Institute conducted one of the most cited surveys on the matter. Results placed the number of boomers with a reported hearing loss around 1 in 6. However, this survey was released in 2005, when the baby boomers age range was 41-51.
Today, it is 100% guaranteed to be higher.
Baby boomers are currently aged in the range of 53-71 years old. When an individual reaches the age of 65, statistics show that their likeliness of having a hearing loss is essentially a 50/50 chance.
The statistic of 1 in 6 also refers to the amount of boomers that have been officially diagnosed with hearing loss. This makes the information a little tricky because the vast majority of people don’t even recognize that they have a hearing issue until it’s brought to their attention by someone else.
By 2030 – hearing loss is expected to affect more than 50 million boomers.
Overcoming Hearing Aid Stigma
Statistics also show a low number of baby boomers that choose to take action to better their hearing. Why so hesitant?
Though it may not be apparent to those unaffected, many people confess to feeling a sizeable amount of stigma around hearing aids. In some cases, the feelings of embarrassment can be self-created in ways that many of us can relate to. Things like not wanting to ‘look old’ or let off that you’ve ‘lost a step’.
In turn, many of the people who would benefit the most from a new set of hearing aids choose to avoid the subject altogether.
In just about every past poll you find, they all show that boomers aren’t the biggest fans of hearing aids. Luckily, there are initial signs of change for the better.
There are countless more people that would benefit from using hearing aids. More people are starting to warm up to the idea than before.
Hearing loss statistics rise significantly for those hitting their early to mid-sixties. This means that the generation of baby boomers are currently hitting their stride of peak hearing loss years.
Most people take anywhere from 5-7 years from the time they notice a hearing issue to the time they actually do something about it.
In the same BHI survey, it notes that 1 in 14 of respondents within the ‘Gen X’ age range already report a hearing loss. It also reports a minimum of 1.4 million children under the age of 18 living with hearing deficiencies.
Over 58 million Americans, across all ages, currently report some form of hearing loss. Estimations show that by the year 2050, more than 900 million people worldwide will be affected. But, there’s still hope for a change.
This positive change comes in the form of awareness. We can promote safe hearing habits, the use of regular hearing protection and encourage hearing aid wearers.
What is a Baby Boomer?
The term ‘baby boomer’ refers to those born around the years of 1946 – 1965. This period shortly following World War II saw a sharp increase in birth rate and was widely categorized as a ‘baby boom’. From there, the name stuck and has become a well-received nickname by those that fall inside the age range.
The baby boomer generation was the first to be exposed to rock n’ roll. While this isn’t a direct cause, it definitely spurred a new level of high-voltage noise exposure. A staggering amount of musicians that many of us grew up listening to have even had to cut their on-stage careers short due to hearing loss concerns.
Causes of Hearing Loss
Over time, the natural, age-related depreciation of hearing makes up the largest cause of hearing loss. The majority of people that report a hearing loss attribute it to the noise pollution present in their daily environment.
Some suffer sudden hearing losses from traumatic instances or illnesses. There are also congenital hearing impairments lasting from birth.
Many surveys have found hearing loss to be the #1 work-related injury. Approximately 22 million workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work
According to another study conducted by the Better Hearing Institute, high numbers of seniors are working for longer. The average age of retirement is raising. Have you thought about which age you’d like to stop working at?
The study showed that between 2006 and 2016, the number of senior workers rose by 83%. This means that the potential for prolonged exposure to dangerous sounds on the job increases.
If you work or live in an environment where you are regularly exposed to dangerously high decibel levels, don’t wait. Make sure you take preventative measures to protect your hearing. Because unlike other injuries, damage to the hair cells in our ears is permanent.
Everyday Signs of Hearing Loss
If you find yourself doing one or more of these, it’s time to give a call to your local audiologist.
- Do you often mishear or strain to hear when speaking with friends and family members?
- Do others typically raise their voice or repeat themselves when talking to you?
- Have you felt an impact on your social life because of your hearing troubles?
- Are phone calls becoming more difficult to hear clearly?
- Do others point out that you keep the TV volume too loud?
- Do you have trouble listening to a conversation in public settings like restaurants and sporting events?
If you don’t know of an audiologist in your area, you can always browse online to find a local provider. If you have a preferred ENT that you go to, they would be a good resource to ask for an audiologist referral from. Most ENTs won’t conduct the actual audiometric hearing testing themselves and will pass you along to a hearing specialist for a more refined approach.
Effects of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss has an effect on just about every aspect of a person’s life. Without the help of hearing aids, a hearing impairment goes untreated and continues to worsen.
This can jeopardize your personal relationships, social skills, and even your income stability.
One of the most commonly shared side effects of hearing loss is the toll it takes on someone’s social life. No one, able-hearing or not, enjoys trying to speak to someone in a loud, crowded place. You can imagine how much less enthused someone with hearing loss would feel in those environments.
It can feel like a burden leaving the house at times, out of frustration at the difficulty hearing. This leads to highly reported numbers of depression, anxiety and social isolation among those with hearing loss.
Apart from life outside the home, hearing loss can also affect your personal relationships inside of it. Whether it be a family member, a loved one or friend, hearing loss should never be portrayed as a burden to others. It is important to be conscious of the people we communicate with regularly. Rather than hide the truth of a hearing loss out of pride or insecurity, be open about your communication needs. This will help keep everyone on the same page.
Untreated hearing loss poses a very real threat lost income or earning potential. Another national survey conducted by the Better Hearing Institute found that workers with untreated hearing loss risk losing as much as $30,000 annually.
When you look at everyone in the country currently living with a hearing loss, the majority of them are active in the workforce. BHI reports that America is experiencing a “demographic shift toward a maturing labor force.”
Another survey from EPIC Hearing shockingly shows that only about 5% of the millions of employees with hearing loss have actually taken steps toward a solution.
When a hearing loss goes untreated, it increases the risk of other, even more serious diseases. Numerous studies have found a direct link between untreated hearing loss and the rate of mental decline in seniors.
Researchers found that the brain feels the backlash of not having sounds to process as much anymore. This lack of neural stimulation allows the brain to deteriorate at a faster rate, making someone with hearing loss almost twice as likely to develop diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Hearing loss is also recognized as a side effect of a number of other diseases. Some of which include diabetes, osteoporosis and Meniere’s disease.
What Can Baby Boomers Do About Hearing Loss?
While hearing loss is permanent – there’s no need to feel helpless from it. The good news is that more than 90% of hearing loss cases are able to treated and improved through the use of hearing aids.
The average age of someone born in the baby boomer generation lands right inside the range of when hearing loss really starts to set in. It’s important that people of all ages, but especially those in their senior years to have routine hearing checks. The key to treating hearing loss with the most success is to catch it as early as possible.
Boomers Start to Embrace Hearing Aids
More and more baby boomers today are choosing to embrace hearing aids. They have become more comfortable with the ever-expanding uses of technology throughout our daily lives. Today’s grandparents have instagrams or can be found flooding the comments of facebook with compliments about how nice their grandkids look in that photo.
So, it only makes sense that as the senior population becomes more tech-friendly, they also start feeling more comfortable with hearing aids. We see different forms of wearable technology all over the place these days, and hearing aids helped to lead the way for this trend.
With seemingly other person owning a pair of wireless earbuds, the concept of walking around with something in your ears is the farthest thing from strange anymore. Take a pair of Apple’s Airpods, wireless Beats headphones, or the latest hearing aids – you might be surprised at which of the three looks the sleekest.
Exciting Advancements in Hearing Aids
The advancements in hearing aid technology don’t exactly make front page news, but they are definitely worth recognizing. Modern day hearing aids are designed to deliver more amplification power in smaller, more comfortable models.
Basically, the hearing aid world has changed forever.
The world’s most well-known manufacturers of hearing aids are committed to pushing the boundaries of hearing technology. This has led to development of features like rechargeability, machine learning, and wireless streaming directly from your personal devices to your ears.
Gone are the days of the clunky, 8-track sized hearing aids of old. New, sleek, and sophisticated hearing aids are here to stay.
Interested in learning more about new hearing aid technology? Make sure to visit your local audiologist to try out the latest devices.