What would you do if you could save 40% on healthcare costs? Would you get yourself some new clothes? Would you spend a little more on a loved one? How about investing it in your hobby? Or maybe you’d just like the security of putting that money in the bank.
Well, there is something that could potentially be raising your healthcare costs, taking money that you could put to better use. In fact, it’s causing older adults to shell out 46% more on healthcare expenses than their neighbors. That one thing is ignoring untreated hearing loss.
Here’s why this one thing takes such a costly toll on your health.
Pay an Immediate Price for Ignoring Hearing Loss
A study reported in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery showed that within just 2 years of being diagnosed with hearing loss a person who doesn’t get treated for hearing loss will spend 26% more on healthcare than someone who chose to get hearing aids. Within the first 10 years after diagnosis, they’ve spent over $22,000 and 46% more than their peers.
These additional costs take many forms that can clearly be demonstrated through studies completed by trusted research institutions like Johns Hopkins.
Rising Costs of Healthcare: Admission & Readmission Rate
A study conducted by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reviewed over 70 thousand patient records.
They found that within 10 years of diagnosis, those who chose not to get hearing aids had been admitted into the hospital 50% more times than those who got hearing loss treatment. They had a 44% higher risk of readmission within 30 days, and they were 17% more likely to end up in the ER.
Even if Medicare pays around 80%, that’s a huge out-of-pocket expense.
Those numbers are staggering. But you may be asking, why do people with untreated hearing challenges end up in the hospital in the first place? To find out, we’ll need to look a bit deeper at what happens when you lose your hearing.
How Losing Your Hearing Changes Your Brain
A person who was born deaf or lost their hearing in their early 20’s due to a military accident, for example, isn’t the same as a person with age-related hearing loss who has had their hearing for 50, 60 or even 70 years. If you’ve had your hearing for a long time, your brain has built its structure around your ability to hear. It relies on your hearing, and other senses, to make sense of the world.
Take hearing away at middle age or older and the brain falters. Language comprehension, which is linked to your hearing, becomes a constant battle to understand and find words that once came so easily.
In addition, it increases your risks of dementia…but more on that later. Your brain will continue to try to hear, and that strain leads to additional stress on the body. And unbridled stress caused by trying to hear and understand takes its toll on every aspect of life.
- It reduces the effectiveness of your immune system
- It shrinks the brain
- It sabotages memory and cognitive functions
- It can lead to depression and anxiety
Could any of these effects land you in the hospital? They certainly can. In fact, studies have very clearly linked untreated hearing loss to increased risk of several medical and psychological conditions.
The Health Risks of an Untreated Hearing Impairment
Results vary slightly from study to study. But the results have been consistent in showing statistically significant increased risk for many ailments. Bloomberg School’s Department of Epidemiology finds the following:
- 3.2 more dementia per 100 people among those without hearing aids
- 3.6 more serious falls
- 6.9 more depression
This amounts to a 40% increased risk of depression and 30% increased risk of falls. And these are only 3 factors that could increase medical costs.
Can Getting Hearing Aids Reverse the Risks
The true test of the validity of studies like these is found in the answer to a simple question. Can you do these studies in reverse? Can researchers show that the hearing aids are actually able to reduce risk? The answer is yes.
Studies can demonstrate this.
- Getting hearing aids can slow cognitive decline by 75%.
- After just 2 weeks of consistently wearing hearing aids, brain function improves.
- Hearing aids increase alertness, improve balance and reduce traumatic brain injuries (caused by falls).
Are you living with untreated hearing loss? Or perhaps you’re not wearing your hearing aids as much as you could? Increased healthcare expense is just one more reason it’s time to restore your hearing. Talk to a hearing specialist today.
Page medically reviewed by Kevin St. Clergy, Audiologist, on May 4, 2020.