'The Golden Bachelor' puts hearing aids on prime time. Doctors love to see it.

Gerry Turner wearing hearing aids.
The Golden Bachelor has garnered positive attention for showing Gerry Turner wearing hearing aids. (Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images)

ABC's The Golden Bachelor follows 72-year-old lead Gerry Turner as he looks for love. While the show follows a similar format to The Bachelor, there are some notable differences that nod to the age of Turner and the women vying for his heart — all of whom are at least 60. One that's gotten plenty of buzz is the show subtly acknowledging that Turner wears hearing aids.

The opening sequence of the debut episode features Turner getting dressed and then putting in his hearing aids as music suddenly plays. But Turner isn't the only person on the series wearing hearing aids: One contestant told Turner that she also wears "ear candy."

Viewers took note on social media. "I really love that Gerry's hearing aids aka 'ear candy' are visible and acknowledged," wrote one fan on X, formerly known as Twitter. "We love an inclusive paradigm shift." Another chimed in with this: "Love that an opening shot is Gerry using a disability aid. You wear those hearing aids with pride, you precious man."

So what does having hearing aids portrayed this way on a show that's gotten plenty of buzz do for the general consciousness about these important tools? Hearing experts are happy, for starters. Here's why.

Who usually needs hearing aids?

In case you're not familiar with them, hearing aids are small electronic devices that you wear in or behind your ears to help make some sounds louder, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). They receive sound through a microphone, which converts the sound waves to electrical signals and sends them to an amplifier, the NIDCD explains. The amplifier then increases the power of the signals and sends them to the ear through a speaker to help the wearer hear.

Hearing aids are usually associated with age-related hearing loss, but they can help people of all ages hear, Stephen Camarata, a professor of hearing and speech sciences at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Life. Still, "hearing aid use is very, very common in senior citizens," he says.

There's a broad range of people who can benefit from using a hearing aid, Stacy Douberly, audiologist at Penn Medicine, tells Yahoo Life. "Hearing aids are typically recommended for people with mild, moderate or severe hearing loss," she says.

In August 2022, hearing aids became over-the-counter devices, allowing companies to sell them directly to customers online or in stores without the need for a medical exam or fitting by an audiologist.

Hearing aids aren't used as much as they should be

In fact, the NIDCD says that only about 1 out of 5 people who would benefit from a hearing aid actually uses one. "It is widely understood by audiologists that the average person waits seven years after being recommended hearing aids to actually to seek out them out," Douberly says.

Why? "Hearing loss sufferers often feel there is stigma associated with hearing aids or that it makes them seem sick or defective," Dr. Scott Shapiro, an associate professor in the Department of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, tells Yahoo Life.

Others may feel intimidated by hearing aids. "Some people aren't comfortable using the technology too, since they do need adjustments to be able to function properly," Dr. Michael Yong, an otolaryngologist at Pacific Neuroscience Institute in Santa Monica, Calif., tells Yahoo Life.

But not having a hearing aid when you need one can lead to even more health complications, Melissa Schnitzspahn, manager of audiology at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells Yahoo Life. "When an individual needs a hearing aid, but doesn't use one, they often find themselves asking for repetition, or responding inappropriately because they misunderstood what was said," she says. "People start withdrawing from activities they once enjoyed because they cannot fully participate in the conversation."

There are even studies that have linked hearing loss with dementia, Yong says. On the flip side, research has shown that hearing aids can slow cognitive decline in people who are high risk for developing dementia.

What's the potential impact of hearing aids being shown on The Golden Bachelor?

Turner is shown on the show as an adventurous man who loves to spend time outdoors and play pickleball with friends. He's also well-spoken, good looking and has an army of women vying for his attention. Experts say having attractive, engaging people portrayed with hearing aids can help sway public opinion on these devices.

"Any media that highlights that individuals with hearing aids are thriving, successful, attractive and can interact in society is a positive step forward in trying to address this barrier," Meaghan Reed, director of clinical audiology at Mass Eye and Ear, tells Yahoo Life. While The Golden Bachelor has older contestants, Reed says, "they are still being shown as young and attractive — not only for their age. I hope it inspires people and motivates people to address the barriers they face as they age, such as hearing loss, and to feel empowered that taking action can lead to good things."

Former Bachelor star Abigail Heringer, 28, who was the franchise's first deaf contestant, has also spoken openly about her use of hearing aids. "It's always just been something that's a part of my life," she previously told Yahoo Life. "You know, I'm deaf, I wear a cochlear implant. My disability isn't my defining trait, it's not all of who I am."

Having people like Turner, Heringer and other contestants be open about their hearing aid use can help encourage others to feel comfortable doing the same, Yong says. "Seeing celebrities and people normalizing using hearing aids is super helpful," he says. "We want to get to the point where the majority of people with hearing loss who need hearing aids actually use them."

If you suspect your hearing isn't as good as it should be — or you know you struggle to hear well, Schnitzspahn recommends seeing an audiologist. "We are trained to diagnose and treat hearing loss," she says. "We can help you find the best solution to fit your hearing loss and lifestyle."