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Only Two in 10 Older Adults Report Being Screened for Hearing Loss

TUESDAY, March 2, 2021 -- Eight in 10 older adults say they have not been screened for hearing loss in primary care within the last two years, according to a report published online March 2 based on the results of the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging.

Preeti Malani, M.D., from the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation in Ann Arbor, and colleagues surveyed a national sample of 2,074 adults aged 50 to 80 years in June 2020 about their hearing, use of assistive devices, and experiences with screening and testing for hearing loss.

According to the results of the survey, half of older adults (51 percent) rated their hearing as excellent or very good, 33 percent said their hearing was good, and 16 percent rated their hearing as fair or poor. Men were more likely to rate their hearing as fair or poor (20 percent versus 12 percent among women), as were those aged 65 to 80 years old (19 percent versus 14 percent of those aged 50 to 64 years). Overall, 6 percent of respondents reported using a hearing aid or cochlear implant; of these respondents, 13 percent rated their hearing as fair or poor. Only 20 percent of respondents reported that their primary care provider had asked about their hearing in the previous two years.

"These poll results are especially timely given the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's expected regulations regarding over-the-counter hearing aids, which could improve access but also make screening and testing more important for those who might seek to buy their own device without a prescription," Malani said in a statement.

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