September 7, 2011—Edison Stanford Hearing Center is helping Salt Lake City residents with hearing loss regain their quality of life and remain socially active by raising awareness of a new comprehensive research study that shows how today’s technically advanced, sleekly designed hearing aids benefit people’s lives. According to the findings of the study, conducted by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), eight out of ten hearing aid users say they are satisfied with the changes that have occurred in their lives specifically due to their hearing aids. And 82 percent of hearing aid users say they’d recommend hearing aids to their friends.
“These findings are both timely and encouraging,” says Paul Lloyd, BC-HIS, ACA. “More and more people are suffering from noise-induced hearing loss at younger and younger ages. But what many people don’t realize is how dramatically the quality of their lives can improve with the use of hearing aids.”
According to this comprehensive study of more than 2,000 hearing aid users, nearly 70 percent of respondents said their ability to communicate effectively in most situations improved because of their hearing aid. A little more than half said their hearing aids improved their relationships at home, their social life, and their ability to join in groups. And roughly forty percent noted improvements in their sense of safety, self-confidence, feelings about self, sense of independence, and work relationships. Between 25 and 33 percent of hearing aid users said they even saw improvements in their romance, sense of humor, cognitive skills, and mental, emotional, and physical health.
According to Lloyd, outdated notions about hearing aids pose a significant barrier that inhibits people from addressing their hearing loss. All told, public perception of hearing aids hasn’t kept pace with the new technologies and discreet designs of today’s modern devices. And unfortunately, these misperceptions are holding people back from addressing their hearing loss and improving their quality of life.
The BHI study bears out that 79 percent of people who do seek help and use hearing aids are satisfied with them, and 86 percent are satisfied with the benefit they derive from hearing aid usage.
What’s more, as hearing aid technologies advance, individuals are becoming even more satisfied. Consumers, for example, are more satisfied with mini-BTEs than ever before and report superior sound quality, cosmetics, and functionality in more listening situations. In fact, in recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids because they have become miniaturized and nearly invisible due to the fact that an ear-mold is no longer necessary.
Ninety-one percent of all hearing aid users surveyed are satisfied with the ability of their hearing aids to improve communication in one-on-one situations. And more than three in four are satisfied in small groups (85%), while watching television (80%), outdoors (78%), during leisure activities (78%), while shopping (77%), and while riding in a car (77%).
“Today’s hearing aids are about staying young, not growing old,” explains Sergei Kochkin, PhD, BHI’s Executive Director, who authored the study. “People want to hold onto their vitality as they enter and move through middle-age. But when someone ignores a hearing loss—which oftentimes has progressed gradually over time as a result of repeated noise exposure—that individual unwittingly begins losing the very vitality they treasure. What this research shows, however, is that those who do face their hearing loss and use hearing aids are experiencing significant and satisfying improvements in their quality of life.”
Another important take-away from the study is that benefit received from the hearing aid, and quality of life improvements, were highly related to the quality of care provided by the hearing healthcare professional. Ideally, hearing health professionals will include testing in a sound booth; use probe microphones to verify the hearing aid fit; use an array of counseling tools to help people hear better and adapt to their hearing aids; and validate improvement in hearing associated with hearing aid use.
“I strongly urge people in Salt Lake City to make an appointment to get their hearing checked today,” says Lloyd. “Because hearing loss typically happens so gradually, it’s difficult for people to understand the full extent of the loss and the negative impact it has had on their well-being. But the good news is that hearing aids can help the vast majority of people with hearing loss regain their quality of life.”
To help consumers in purchasing hearing aids, and to guide them in what to look for in quality hearing healthcare, BHI has published a comprehensive publication entitled, "Your Guide to Buying Hearing Aids," which is available at buyersguide.edisonstanford.com.
The four-part BHI survey used the National Family Opinion Panel to assess consumer perceptions of the functionality of modern hearing aids; compared the new invisible mini-BTE hearing aids to traditional style hearing aids; asked respondents to share how their lives changed as a result of their hearing aids; and evaluated the role the hearing healthcare professional had on consumer success with hearing aids.