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Hearing loss may be on the rise

By 2060, more than two-thirds of Americans older

By 2060, more than two-thirds of Americans older than 70 may have significant hearing loss. Credit: Fotolia / Klaus Eppele

Can you hear me? Maybe not.

A Johns Hopkins study published recently found that, as Americans age, more of them are expected to suffer from hearing loss. Researchers predict that 44 million — or 15 percent of U.S. adults — will have some hearing loss by 2020. That will increase to 23 percent of all adults 20 and older by 2060.

The rise in Americans with hearing loss will be especially pronounced among the 70 and older set. In 2020, 55 percent of all adults with hearing loss will be 70 or older. In 2060 — 67 percent.

Hearing aids can be expensive, running into thousands of dollars, and they’re not covered by Medicare. Many seniors pay the full cost or find an insurance that pays part of the expense. But it’s not just cost that worries senior advocates. Hearing loss affects quality of life and a person’s ability and interest to engage in social situations.

Among seniors, hearing loss often leads to depression, anxiety and mental decline, according to the American Academy of Audiology. Because hearing loss tends to be a slow and irreversible process, many don’t know they are experiencing it. Specialists suggest all seniors 55 and older get tested.

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