Prevalence Of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is the fourth most common chronic health condition reported by individuals who are sixty-five years and over (National Center for Health Statistics). Among males, 33 percent aged sixty-five to seventy-four years, and 43 percent aged seventy-five years and over report a hearing impairment. Comparable figures for females are 16 percent and 31 percent for sixty-five to seventy-four year olds and those seventy-five and older, respectively. A much higher prevalence rate of hearing loss among older people is reported in studies that actually test hearing sensitivity in the population. For example, 83 percent of the 2,351 participants in the Framingham Heart Cohort Study, ages fifty-seven to eighty-nine years, had some degree of hearing loss at one frequency in the speech range (Moscicki, Elkins, Baum, and McNamara). Using a criterion of average hearing sensitivity exceeding 25 decibels Hearing Level (dB HL) as indicating significant hearing loss, the overall prevalence rate in large population-based studies of older adults is about 46 percent.