I'm not that old: how attitudes towards loss of hearing affect adoption of goods and services designed to improve qualifty of life
It is well understood that many people who experience hearing loss do not realize the extent of their loss and often do not seek help. This resistance to intervention puts them at risk of social isolation, depression and even serious neurological issues such as dementia.
This research explores first, the attitudes that people have toward hearing loss and how these attitudes affect the adoption of products and services that could help them. This may not seem like a design question, but it is paramount to designers who seek to improve the quality of life for this population. It is no longer enough to create beautiful, functional products. In order to make a difference in people’s lives, designers need to understand the underlying motivations that drive behavior. This informs the second question this study seeks to answer, what changes can be made to current products and services on the market in order to increase adoption.
Through a series of qualitative interviews with seniors experiencing hearing loss, this study finds that the main factors in their attitudes towards hearing loss are their feelings towards aging in general, their susceptibility to stigma, and their perceptions of the cost and functionality of the hearing devices available. However, the most important factor found in this study is a lack of awareness. Awareness of their own level of hearing loss. Awareness of the risks associated with putting off intervention. And awareness of the products and services available to help. Thus, design solutions that focus on visibility of services and patient education will have the most meaningful impact on quality of life for those who suffer from hearing loss.