According to Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), a new survey by the BHI shows that working Americans who ignore their hearing problems are losing at least $100 billion a year in earnings. Even people with mild hearing loss, who may miss a consonant or a word here and there, will lose income if they can’t completely grasp the latest news at the water cooler or the subtle nuances in a phone message from the boss.
The truth is, whether your hearing problem is treated or not, you are likely to lose some income in the course of your working life. But the research revealed that, on average, the income decline is cut in half for hearing aid owners.
The average amount of income lost by working people who don’t get hearing aids ranges from $1,000 a year (for those with mild hearing loss) to $12,000 a year (for those with profound hearing loss). But individuals can lose a lot more. I once spoke to a contractor who blew a $1 million deal because he misheard job specifications that were conveyed in person (he admitted that he had been “too vain” to wear a hearing aid).
Getting hearing aids at a younger age reduces the chance of losing income. You might think of hearing loss as something that happens mainly to older people. But most people with this problem are in the prime of life, including 1 out of 6 baby boomers (ages 41-59) and 1 out of 14 “Gen-exers” (ages 29-40). Yet, right now, only 1 out of 4 of Americans with hearing problems are getting treatment.
People are still embarrassed to admit they have hearing problems and need hearing aids. Some incorrectly believe a hearing aid will make them seem odd or out of place or less able to do the job than their co-workers. But if you seem out of touch or just plain stupid because you can’t hear very well, that will be much more noticeable than a modern hearing device in your ear. And that could really hurt your career and reduce your income. In a service economy, good communications skills are critically important.