The Non-Use of Hearing Aids in People Aged 75 Years and Over in the City of Kuopio in Finland

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2005 Mar;262(3):165-9. doi: 10.1007/s00405-004-0789-x. Epub 2004 May 5.

Abstract

Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions affecting the health of the aged. It is typically medically non-treatable, and hearing aid (HA) use remains the treatment of choice. However, only 15-30% of older adults with hearing impairment possess an HA. Many of them never use it. The purpose of our study was to investigate the use of provided HAs and reasons for the non-use of HAs. This population-based survey was set in the city of Kuopio in eastern Finland. A total of 601 people aged 75 years or older participated in this study. A geriatrician and a trained nurse examined the subjects. Their functional and cognitive capacity was evaluated. A questionnaire about participants' socioeconomic characteristics and the use of HAs were included in the study protocol. The subjects who had an HA were assigned to three groups on the basis of HA use: full-time users, part-time users and non-users. Inquiries were made about the subjective reasons for the non-use of HAs. An HA had been prescribed earlier to 16.6% of the study group. Fourteen percent of the females and 23% of the males had been provided with an HA. The HA owners were older than persons who had not been provided with an HA. Twenty-five percent of the HA owners were non-users, and 55% were full-time users. A decline in cognitive or functional capacity and low income explained the non-use of HAs. The most common subjective reasons for the non-use of HAs were that the use did not help at all (10/24), the HA was broken (4/24) or it was too complicated to use (5/24). The non-use of HAs is still common among the aged. Elderly people who have been provided with an HA and who have a cognitive or functional decline are at risk to be a non-user of an HA. Therefore, they need special attention in counseling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cognition
  • Counseling
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Hearing Aids / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Presbycusis / epidemiology*
  • Presbycusis / therapy*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Refusal / statistics & numerical data*