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New Research Shows Untreated Hearing Loss Linked to Depression

Over the past forty years the greatest joy of our business is providing the gift of better hearing. Difficulty hearing is one of the most common conditions among older adults. Many people make lifestyle adjustments rather than seek help. With the new advances in technology now is an ideal time to consider an evaluation. At Hopco Hearing Center, we have made a commitment to professional service, quality products and low prices. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

Choice - There are over 200 manufacturers we can service. Everyone's hearing loss and lifestyle is different... So we offer a wide variety.

Follow-up - All aids come with a 60 day trial... We see you weekly during this time to assure your adjustments and the aids adjustment are satisfactory.

Continued Education - Every year we attend conventions and manufacturer seminars to keep up the latest fitting news and technology. We are members of nationally accredited American Speech and Hearing Association, American Academy of Audiologists and the International Hearing Society.

People often suffer from hearing loss as they age, and new research says that can lead to depression, especially if they isolate themselves from opportunities to socialize.

The study showed that depression levels increased based on the degree of hearing loss, said Dr. Justin Golub, anassistant professor at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. However, because most health insurance policies don't cover hearing aids, he said many people go without.

Health professionals don't necessarily connect the dots between hearing impairment and depression, Golub said.

"Say you're 70 years old and you clearly have depression," he said. "If you see a psychiatrist for depression, they're probably not saying, 'Hey, do you have hearing loss? Go check that out and get a hearing aid.' I think it's just not even on the radar right now, and we're trying to put it on the map, because I think it matters."

Golub's team analyzed data collected from a Hispanic Community Health Study, which included more than 5,000 people age 50 and older. He said hearing loss can be under-reported in the Latino community because of language and cultural barriers.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, more than 35 million American children and adults have some hearing impairment. On the positive side, Golub said, a law passed in 2017 called for the creation of a new entry-level category of hearing aid, now undergoing FDA approval.

"So, there's actually a concerted effort now to improve access to hearing aids and increase the wear rate of hearing aids," he said. "So, in about a year or two, there's actually going to be over-the-counter hearing aids that you can pick up at any drugstore across America."

It's estimated that about 80% of people age 80 and older have some hearing loss, but Golub said only one-quarter of them wear hearing aids. He believes, however, that technology is changing outdated stereotypes.

"Youngsters are walking around with little computers in their ears and computers over their eyes," he said, "and so, it's much more acceptable to be wearing technology on your face – whereas about 20 years ago, it was not acceptable."

In addition to depression, hearing loss is associated with several other diseases and conditions, including dementia and cognitive impairment.

Article originally appeared on Public News Service.