Baby Boomers (Americans born between the years 1946 and 1964, during the baby boom) are known for changing the way Americans live. This generation makes up about 28 percent of our 75 million total population. They have set trends in popular culture, technology, civil rights, and now, they’re redefining the retirement age. Baby Boomers are living longer and more active lives, but they’re also working longer. The original retirement age is no longer 60.
Baby Boomers still comprise one third of the workforce, and many say that they don’t expect to retire until they are 66 years or older. One in ten predict that they may never retire. We know that anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of Baby Boomers are suffering from some degree of untreated hearing loss. Consider, then, the idea that because Boomers are working longer, there are now more people in the workforce with untreated hearing loss.
Untreated hearing loss can affect job performance, productivity, and earnings. In fact, one study found that people with hearing loss may lose as much as $30,000 in annual income. Another study reports that 95 percent of employees with untreated hearing loss have admitted that their hearing loss impacts them on the job in at least one way, from asking people to repeat themselves to misunderstanding what they hear or pretending to understand when they do not.
Untreated hearing loss also poses as a safety concern, preventing individuals from hearing sounds that signal hazards in the work environment. Untreated hearing loss can be especially dangerous for those who work in construction, manufacturing and law enforcement positions.
The good news is that the Baby Boomer generation has made staying healthy and active a priority. They are embracing modern technologies that help them stay connected to their family and friends, and they understand the importance of addressing their health concerns. Now, it’s just a matter of helping to overturn the negative stigma that has previously surrounded hearing aids—their large size, visibility and embarrassment. All of these reasons for not seeking hearing help are no longer valid as most hearing aid manufactures have customized and completely invisible products available.
Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent conditions affecting Americans today, but it is also one of the most easily treatable. Hearing aids, as well as other appropriate treatments and workplace accommodations, can help individuals with hearing loss perform optimally on the job. For Baby Boomers who suspect they might have hearing loss, the time to seek help from a hearing professional is now, so there are no negative repercussions later.