American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Hearing Loss a Major Concern Among AARP Members

ASHA Poll at AARP's Convention Highlights Need to Promote Communication Health Services to Consumers 50+

(Rockville, MD - November 9, 2010)  

Fifty-three percent of respondents believe that they or their spouse has a hearing loss, yet only a quarter have consulted an audiologist, according to a poll fielded by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) at the 2010 AARP Life@50+ Convention.

These findings, combined with the respondents' lack of familiarity about the professions of audiology and speech-language pathology, suggest the need to reach out to this population about identification, prevention, and treatment of speech, language, or hearing disorders.

The poll was completed by 484 AARP attendees who stopped by the ASHA exhibit during the September 30–October 2, 2010, AARP National Convention in Orlando, Florida. The ASHA booth was staffed by local Orlando member audiologist Anne Hains Peters, CCC-A, and Ann-Marie Pierotti, CCC-SLP, a speech-language pathologist at ASHA's National Office.

The poll not only explored the hearing ability of the AARP respondents, but also probed the attendees' views about what they value most from a health care provider, level of familiarity with audiologists and speech-language pathologists, and the most effective way to communicate about communication health.

AARP members' responses to the poll also revealed:

  • The vast majority—91%—indicated that they did not own a hearing aid.
  • Accuracy in diagnosis and treatment was the attribute most valued in a health care priority by the majority (74%) of respondents.
  • Only about a third of respondents reported seeing an audiologist in the past few years; 6% reported seeing a speech-language pathologist.
  • Again, about a third (35%) of respondents reported no familiarity with audiologists and 43% indicated no familiarity with speech-language pathologists.
  • Thirty-nine percent of respondents reported direct mail was the best way to communicate to them about hearing health.
  • Maintaining a continued on-site presence and marketing campaigns (commercials, brochures, etc.) were among the suggestions offered on how ASHA could raise consumer awareness of the professions at future AARP conventions. 

"ASHA hopes our members find the results of this poll useful to their efforts to promote their services to the public," ASHA President Tommie L. Robinson Jr., PhD, CCC-SLP, says. "ASHA welcomes the opportunity to promote them at AARP's Convention as well as the chance to work with AARP in other ways that highlight how our members' expertise can serve the communication health of AARP members."

The complete report is available by contacting pr@asha.org.

About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 140,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems including swallowing disorders.

View all ASHA press releases at www.asha.org/about/news.

Listen to all ASHA podcasts at http://podcast.asha.org.

To find an audiologist or speech-language pathologist, visit www.asha.org/findpro/.

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