To millions of Americans age 50 and over, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is a familiar name. That’s because some 40 million people in the United States are members of this non-profit organization that helps baby boomers and seniors improve the quality of their lives.
Among the many hot-button issues the AARP has been championing is health. And, within that category, screening and treatment for hearing loss is often cited by the organization as an issue that is critical to a large number of its membership.
Now the AARP has joined forces with HearUSA, one of the country’s largest hearing care providers, to supply hearing aids and hearing help to its members.
A far-reaching project
The new hearing aid program, launched in October 2009 as part of the initial phase of a nationwide rollout, will offer AARP members unique and cost-effective features, including state-of-the-art digital hearing aids, an extended warranty, battery supplies, aural rehabilitation, as well as on-going follow-up and consultation with the patient and family.
“Hearing loss is a growing, cross-generational health issue affecting people of all ages,” John Wider, Executive Vice President of AARP Services Inc. explained in a statement. “This innovative relationship with HearUSA will give AARP members access to a specialized hearing wellness program that focuses on education and quality of care.”
Adds Cindy Beyer, HearUSA’s Senior Vice-President: “Our goal in administering the AARP Hearing Care Program is to spread that message, provide the best hearing care experience, restore communication ability, and improve quality of life.”
So far, the project is available in Florida and New Jersey, with a 24-month roll-out plan, which will allow HearUSA to reach all 50 states and six US territories. “Our current network is 2,000 audiologists; to provide adequate access to all of the AARP membership, we need to double the network, keeping in mind that our program is based on quality and best practices,” Beyer tells Healthy Hearing. “During 2010, we plan to launch the program in 20 states; by the end of 2011 we will complete the roll-out. In the meantime, we will attempt to match as many AARP members with our existing provider network as possible.”
To see when the program is coming to your state, visit the AARP Hearing Program section on HearUSA’s website.
Why you should listen
The reason is simple but compelling: Hearing loss impacts more than 30 million Americans. According to National Institutes of Health, nearly one in five people 45-64 years old, one in three 65-74, and half of all adults 75 years old or older have a hearing impairment.
Yet, many of these people who could greatly benefit from a hearing aid, don’t. Apart from the financial reasons – an average cost of a hearing aid ranges from $1,000 to 4,000 - they attribute their reluctance to factors such as denial of hearing loss, association of hearing loss with disability, difficulty in accepting change, as well as cosmetic considerations.
The refusal to seek treatment for hearing impairment, however, can negatively impact both physical and emotional well-being. Apart from safety considerations (for example, not hearing the warning sounds such as fire alarms or traffic on a busy street), untreated hearing loss prevents us from participating in conversations and interacting with people around us – not to mention workplace challenges.
Hearing aids, on the other hand, not only help us hear better but also – as numerous studies have demonstrated – improve our overall quality of life, a point emphasized by Beyer.
“Our hearing is important - it connects us to all aspects of our daily lives - our jobs, our families, our friends, and the world,” she says. “This project will help us in raising awareness of hearing loss and educating consumers on the benefits of proper hearing care. Proper evaluation and fitting of today's hearing aid technology can reverse those conditions, restore communication ability, and improve quality of life. Ultimately, we aim to improve consumer satisfaction and acceptance levels, and will work to change the way that hearing aids are perceived.”