Though it may not be obvious, it just makes sense when you think about it. The better you hear the more you earn – throughout your life! And not just a little bit more in earnings. A recent study, conducted by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), indicates that hearing loss, when left untreated, translates into a per household job earnings loss of up to $12, 000 a year. That’s a lot of money – especially for a problem that can be effectively treated using today’s hearing aid technology and hearing health know-how.
Hearing Loss and Earnings
Let’s crunch some numbers:
- Undetected hearing loss leads to lower earnings – $122 billion in lost wages each year across the U.S. economy.
- Using a hearing aid increases earning power by 50%.
- 31 million Americans currently experience some degree of hearing loss.
- Only 37% of those Americans are retired. The rest are in schools and the workplace.
- Only 23% of identified, hearing impaired individuals use a hearing device.
- 90-95% of those who experience hearing loss would benefit from using a hearing aid.
- The study shows a clear, undeniable correlation between hearing loss and earning power. It also demonstrates a strong relationship between the ability to hear and quality of life. More than just an issue of aesthetics, numerous reports referenced in the BHI study indicate that hearing impairment affects virtually every aspect of what we define as quality of life including: physical and emotional health, self-image and self-esteem, social skills ( a requirement for success in any workplace environment), family relationships and, of course, work performance.
Those who experience hearing loss are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed, in part because the undetected hearing loss impacts language skills development. Children learn to speak through listening to speech. Thus, the earlier a hearing impairment is detected and treated, the better equipped the individual will be to take his or her place on the job.
Hearing Impairment Remediation and Increased Earnings
The Better Hearing Institute study reveals that those who are treated for hearing loss maintain much improved salary profiles. The chart below reveals the relationship between earnings and treatment of hearing loss.
From the chart, it’s easy to see that as hearing impairment increases earnings decrease. However, the chart also reveals that when hearing loss is treated through the use of hearing device technology, the loss in earnings decreases. In other words, hearing impairment is a treatable condition, and when treated, the earning power of the individual increases accordingly.
The Study’s Conclusions
One’s sense of hearing is critical to effective communication which, in turn, is important for workplace success. Most jobs require the ability to speak to conduct business efficiently and effectively. Hearing loss will have a negative impact on the individual’s ability to find full-time, satisfying employment.
Further, unaided hearing loss will lead to lower salaries, fewer job opportunities and slower rates of promotion because hearing impaired workers are more likely to make mistakes and fail to follow directions from their supervisors correctly.
Other conclusions, less specific to employment, indicate that those who experience untreated hearing loss will experience an overall diminished quality of life. Problems associated with hearing loss in older workers include: “…anxiety, depression, social isolation, social paranoia, [poorer] medical health, [lowered] emotional stability and cognitive functioning, ” – thinking and problem-solving skills.
A somewhat unsettling finding of the BHI study indicates that workers are likely to delay treatment of hearing loss because of the “stigma” associated with wearing a hearing aid. Negative perceptions of co-workers play a key role in determining whether workers who experience hearing loss receive the treatment they need for career success. The problems are compounded when “hidden” hearing loss occurs in youngsters during their formative years.
The study concludes that “…untreated hearing loss is not hidden, for it results in underachievement for nearly all who delay treatment while they are in the prime of their life. The tragedy is that untreated hearing loss impacts the individual and his or her family in the form of lost wages, lost promotions, lost opportunities and unrealized dreams – not to mention lower income in their retirement.”
Now, while this particular study of 80, 000 people wasn’t intended to provide solutions, one can infer from the report’s findings that solutions are available for the majority of those with early-onset hearing impairment.
Solutions to the problems associated with hearing loss are determined based on the age at which the hearing loss is detected. In children, the earlier hearing loss is treated the more likely children are to keep up with age peers throughout their school years, better equipping these individuals to find satisfying, well-paying employment.
In older individuals – those who experience hearing loss later in life – the solution is straightforward. See an audiologist and get fitted for a hearing device. Many of today’s devices are discreet and nearly invisible, eliminating both the stigma associated with hearing loss and the negative perceptions of co-workers concerning the skill levels of hearing impaired individuals.
There’s no reason to put off screening for hearing loss even as a young adult. The more severe the hearing loss, the greater the negative impact on earnings and other “quality of life” factors. Today’s digital hearing device technology will close the earnings gap for more than 50% of those with a hearing impairment.
A better job, a bigger paycheck and a better quality of life for you and your loved ones – that’s what you gain when you detect and address a hearing problem quickly. However, only 2% of the total American population uses a hearing device when 10% (31 million Americans) report some degree of hearing loss.
So, the problems have solutions. However, until you take action and get treatment for a hearing impairment, you’re going to continue to experience underemployment, lower levels of job satisfaction and income differentials of up to $1, 000 a month!
That should be motivation enough to take care of this very treatable condition. Call your audiologist today, get tested, get treated and start earning up to your full potential.
Only you can hold yourself back, and only you can take action to address the problems of hearing loss. Do it now for yourself, your family and your bank account. You’ll be glad you did.
Article obtained from Ear Info, a leading web resource on hearing loss and hearing aids.