Nobody wants to be held back by their hearing loss. However, statistics show that when left untreated hearing loss can have a big effect on the opportunities available to us. Hearing loss has long been linked to lower income and greater rates of unemployment. New research continues to confirm the negative impact hearing loss has on a person’s professional life and emphasizes the greater toll it can take if hearing loss is concurrently present with vision loss.
While most hearing loss cannot be reversed or repaired, the good news is that treating hearing loss improves your hearing significantly, improves cognitive performance and can help you keep up with daily life. The earlier hearing loss is treated the easier it is to manage, so it is important to have changes to your hearing examined by a hearing specialist.
HEARING LOSS ON THE JOB
For those in the workforce with hearing loss, keeping up in workplace environments can prove challenging. For most places of employment, verbal comprehension is a large part of staying abreast with what is going on. From team meetings to project brainstorming to working with clients, when following speech becomes a challenge you can easily fall behind.
If you struggle to keep up with the conversations around you, you’re already working overtime. Hearing loss can strain our cognitive performance as disproportionate amounts of attention and focus are used to compensate for hearing impairment. When you are trying to balance a job and your hearing loss, using hearing aids can really help. Hearing aids are programmed to your specific hearing needs to help you hear more, more naturally. By boosting challenging frequency ranges, hearing aids help fill in your “soundscape” and reduce the amount of information you miss.
HEARING LOSS AND WAGES
Hearing loss that goes untreated isn’t a minor thing – it is a serious health issue that ripples through many different parts of your life and wellbeing. A perfect example of this is the income gap between those with untreated hearing loss and people with healthy hearing. Across professions, unaddressed hearing loss is linked to reduced earning power.
The more severe the hearing loss, the bigger the income disparity. Those with profound hearing loss that are not treated with hearing aids, the average lost wages is $20,000 while employees with the most mild forms of hearing loss showed negligible difference with hearing peers. Across hearing levels, using hearing aids greatly helped recover income – around a 50% improvement for all degrees of hearing loss- demonstrating the importance of hearing aids in adapting to workplace demands.
On a national level, this wage gap has an impact on the larger economy. Less than 40% of adults with hearing loss are above retirement age, meaning that around 60% of people with hearing loss are part of the workforce – over 30 million people. The lost earnings due to hearing loss add up to roughly 122 billion dollars annually, income that would bring in 18 billion dollars of taxes.
HEARING LOSS AND UNEMPLOYMENT
Hearing loss can negatively impact your income, but it can also, sadly, hold you back from gaining employment in the first place. Unemployment rates are higher for those with untreated hearing loss than in healthy hearing populations. A recent study has also shown the harmful effects of combined impairments, such as concurrent vision and hearing loss, on employment figures.
With the economic uncertainty of our times, untreated hearing loss is a disadvantage on the job market. Around 44% of adults with unaddressed hearing issues are unemployed, giving them a 20% lower odds of employment compared to a healthy hearing population. For the deaf-blind, employment prospects worsen with 40% lower likelihood of employment. Research is showing that over 60% of those with combined hearing loss and vision impairment are unemployed.
MAKING THE WORLD MORE ACCOMODATING
How do we change the professional limitations hearing loss can cause? On a workplace level, this can be done through on-the-job accommodations that make it easier for hearing impaired employees to stay in the loop. De-emphasized verbal communication, written notes and the use of assistive technologies can all play a role in equalizing the workplace.
On a personal level, treating hearing loss can give you a leg up. Hearing aids have been shown to reduce cognitive strain, improve speech comprehension and close part of the earnings gap. Treating hearing loss, especially in its early stages, is important for performing your best on the job, so if you’ve noticed changes to your hearing it’s time to set up an appointment with us today!