August 29, 2022

FDA’s Announcement on Hearing Aids Could Save Relationships

About 1 in 3 Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and the FDA’s move last week to make hearing aids available over-the-counter (OTC) is a step forward in giving seniors access to care they need. The FDA ruled that a new category of OTC hearing aids will become available for purchase without a prescription or medical exam beginning in October.

The ruling came as part of President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy and is expected to lead to some unanticipated benefits: because the hearing aids will allow many older Americans to more easily be a part of daily conversations, they are likely to save relationships and prevent isolation.

Helene Rosenthal is a board member of the Center for Hearing and Communications, which advises and advocates for people with hearing loss, and she knows the benefits of hearing aids firsthand. Speaking for many, she describes previously having to ask friends and family to repeat themselves — and in their frustration, their answering by enunciating each and every syllable “slowly, as if she were learning English for the first time.” Ms. Rosenthal also said that her hearing loss caused problems in her marriage until she realized she was able to address the situation.

“Over-the-counter hearing aids are likely to make a world of difference for the hearing-impaired, both socially and in their overall health,” said Joseph Peters, Jr., Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “Better hearing also leads to fewer falls and a decrease in other health risks.”

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