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February 9, 2016

Policy Solutions for Better Hearing

Author Affiliations
  • 1The National Quality Forum, Washington, DC
  • 2School of Public Health, University of California-Berkeley
JAMA. 2016;315(6):553-554. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.0044

Most US residents can expect to live longer than those in previous generations, but they are also vulnerable to age-related impairments that are serious barriers to independence, productivity, and quality of life. One of these impairments is hearing loss, which affects more than 40% of people older than 60 years, more than 60% of those older than 70 years, and nearly 80% of people older than 80 years.1 Untreated hearing loss can negatively affect quality of life for older persons by preventing them from engaging with others, thereby leading to social isolation and limiting ability to work. Beyond those adverse effects, hearing loss also has been associated with depression, dementia, cognitive decline, poorer physical functioning, and falls with injury. Thus, hearing loss represents a substantial problem, affecting more than 30 million people.1

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