The inevitable deterioration in hearing ability that occurs with age, age-related hearing loss (ARHL) or presbycusis, is a multifactorial process that can vary in severity from mild to profound. The number of cases of age-related hearing loss is growing due to the rapid growth of South Korea's aging population. According to the Korean Health Statistics of 2009, the incidence of unilateral hearing loss in people aged 65 or older is 17.5 percent, while the incidence of bilateral hearing loss exceeds 25.9 percent. Left untreated, age-related hearing loss of a moderate or greater degree affects communication and can decrease quality of life. Comprehensive rehabilitation by hearing aids or cochlear implant are widely available but underused in part because of social attitudes that undervalue the effect of hearing on life, in addition to the cost and stigma associated with hearing aids. Proper screening tests for ARHL should be developed and primary care physicians should screen and refer their elderly patients for assessment and remediation. In addition, development of hearing aids with a low cost of distribution and an increase in the size of government subsidies to hearing aids are imperative.
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