hearing lossAlmost two-thirds of Americans 70 and older suffer from hearing loss ranging from mild to severe, according to what might be the first study to estimate the prevalence of hearing impairment in a nationally representative sample of older adults, The New York Times recently reported.

Researchers analyzed data from about 715 elderly people whose hearing was examined as part of the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey in 2005-2006, the first time it included hearing assessments of older Americans.

Sixty-three percent of those 70 and older were found to be suffering from impairment that affects their ability to hear human speech, according to the World Health Organization’s definition.

Hearing loss was more common in men than in women. And it was significantly less common in black adults: just 43 percent, compared with 64 percent of whites.

Only a minority of older people with these impairments use hearing aids, Dr. Frank R. Lin, an assistant professor of otology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who was lead author of the paper, published recently in The Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, told The New York Times. “There’s a general perception that hearing loss in older adults is not very important,” he said.

Source: The New York Times