We tend to invest our resources in the things we care about most. If you are passionate about ending climate change, then you might be willing to support non-profits or NGOs that are committed to the cause. You might invest in a hybrid or even electric car, even though the cost is higher than a gas guzzler. You might buy organic foods despite the cost, because you know that the widespread use of pesticides is polluting water systems. Each of these investments results in a benefit down the road that goes beyond a monetary price.
Yet, the monetary gains can be counted, as well. A hybrid vehicle might appear to have a higher sticker price, but your savings on gas over the years might offset that additional sunk cost. Similarly, the cost of installing solar panels might seem prohibitive, but only a few years might recoup that cost. The same logic can be applied to treatment for hearing loss. Some of the benefits of investing in treatment are beyond a dollar amount. Yet, there are other benefits that can be given a price. Let’s look at both of these values applied to the investment in treatment for hearing loss.
Getting treatment for hearing loss is an investment that returns a wide range of qualitative value. Hearing the birds sing on a walk through the woods is a value that can’t be measured, nor is the sound of your new grandchild’s voice or laughter. The pleasure of the sounding world is profound, and after an adjustment period many people with hearing aids find true pleasure in careful listening. The social connections afforded by hearing aids also cannot be quantified. When we can communicate fluidly with our loved ones, not only are we hearing the information and stories they want to share, but these interactions tend to be less frustrating for all involved, as if a barrier between us has been removed.
Beyond these direct qualitative values, treatment for hearing loss has been related to a range of cognitive and physical health benefits. We can avoid injury and lower the risk of dementia. Knowing that we are better protected from these conditions through treatment for hearing loss brings peace of mind. One of the unappreciated benefits of hearing loss is the relief that we give to others who are worried about us. Those who love us most want to see us thriving in each aspect of life, and we are giving value to these loved ones by receiving the treatment we need through hearing aids.
These values cannot be measured, but many of them connect with measurable benefits, as well. Health care costs tend to be a growing portion of our expenditures as life goes on. As research continues regarding how much of our physical, mental, and cognitive health relies on treatment for hearing loss, we might be able to better understand how much we are saving in health care costs through treatment for hearing loss. One dollar amount that researchers have tried to quantify is the reduction in wages that comes from hearing loss. They are able to compare demographic groups that are similar except for the single factor of hearing loss.
Those with hearing loss indeed make less money, on average, than these counterparts. One study estimated that untreated hearing loss can decrease one’s annual income by as much as $30,000. How does this process work? Perhaps discrimination is part of the process, but impaired communication ability is also to blame. Those who make mistakes at work due to miscommunication are more likely to lose their jobs or to be passed over for promotions. Although this type of ability-based performance review is unfair, it is a sad reality of the workplace environment facing those with untreated hearing loss.
With these many values in mind, the cost of getting treatment for hearing loss recedes into the background. Although hearing aids do require an up-front cost of procurement, that cost is quickly compensated through the qualitative and direct quantitative benefits a person can receive. If the cost of hearing aids has been holding you back from getting the treatment you need, why not begin to consider these many benefits as a prompt to get a hearing test?