Two new studies have come out that reveal the high cost of living with untreated hearing loss. The studies suggest that seniors who are unaware or do not treat their hearing loss tend to endure higher medical bills than a person who does treat their hearing loss.
One study analyzed data from over 77,000 U.S. senior patients with untreated age-related hearing loss and were compared to seniors without hearing loss.
Among those with hearing loss, total health care costs were 46 percent higher over a span of 10 years. Per person, this translated to about $22,000, with about $2,000 of that being paid out of pocket and not being covered. Around $600 of that was linked to the hearing loss.
Hearing loss patients over a 10-year span had 50 percent more hospital stays and 44 percent higher risk of hospital remission within 30 days. They were 17 percent more likely to visit the emergency department and had 52 percent more outpatient visits compared to those without hearing loss.
Study lead author Nicholas Reed explained, “Knowing that untreated hearing loss dramatically drives up health care utilization and costs will hopefully be a call to action among health systems and insurers to find ways to better serve these patients.”
Although Reed did not explain why these patients have higher medical costs, an alternative study did shed some light.
A second study found that patients with untreated hearing loss are more likely to suffer from other medical conditions. Over a 10-year span, those with untreated hearing loss have a 50 percent higher risk of dementia, 40 percent higher risk of depression, and nearly 30 percent higher risk of falls compared to those without hearing loss.
Study author Jennifer Deal explained, “We don’t yet know if treating hearing loss could help prevent these problems. But it’s important for us to figure out, because over two-thirds of adults age 70 years and older have clinically significant hearing loss that may impact the everyday quality of life. We need to better understand these relationships to determine if treatment for hearing loss could potentially reduce risk and help maintain health in older adults.”
Neither study could prove that hearing loss resulted in other health conditions, but only a relationship between the two.
It’s important that seniors have their hearing checked and treat it, regardless of how minor it may be, in order to reduce the cost of medical bills and preserve health overall.
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