Proportion of older adults owning, using hearing aids increasing

The proportion of U.S. older adults who reported owning and using hearing aids increased from 2011 to 2018, according to a research letter published online Dec. 7 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Nicholas S. Reed, Au.D., from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues analyzed data from the 2011, 2015, and 2018 cycles of the National Health Aging and Trends Study to examine trends in hearing aid or other hearing device use.

The researchers observed an increase in the overall proportion of participants aged 70 years and older who owned and used hearing aids, from 15.0 to 16.9 and 18.5 percent in 2011, 2015, and 2018, respectively. The proportion of older adults who owned hearing aids rose with increasing age. Across time, fewer Black Americans owned and used hearing aids than White Americans, and they experienced a smaller overall increase in the proportion owning and using hearing aids during the study period (+0.8 versus +4.3 percent). Across subgroups, the smallest growth in hearing aid use was seen for Black women, with growth of 5.8 percent compared with 28.7 percent among White men. An overall decrease in the proportion of hearing aid ownership and use was experienced by older adults living at less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level (from 12.4 to 10.8 percent).

“These data corroborate and build on previous cross-sectional findings of disparities in hearing care by offering a longitudinal analysis in a nationally representative sample of older adults in the United States,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the audiometry industry.