Nearly two-thirds of Australians over 70 have mild to severe hearing loss.
And yet only a third of older people who need hearing aids have them, according to the national peak body for deaf and hearing impaired, the Deafness Forum of Australia.
As many as 85 per cent of aged care residents are typically hearing impaired, but research shows many older people who would benefit from hearing aids typically wait anywhere from six to 10 years before seeking help.
Hearing impairment, if not seen to, can lead to serious consequences including frustration, embarrassment and social withdrawal as people try to hide their hearing loss due to the perceived stigma attached to it.
Recent research also suggests a physiological link between untreated hearing loss and Alzheimer’s disease in older people.
If you are concerned you may be losing your hearing, it’s important to tackle the problem early.
A mild to moderate hearing loss can interfere with easy conversation – especially when there’s lots of background noise.
People who are fitted with hearing aids early are likely to get more benefit from them than those who put up with hearing loss for years before seeking help.
It’s better to start wearing hearing aids sooner rather than later.
Getting used to amplified sound is harder if you’ve already got used to a quieter world.
Delaying diagnosis can also affect relationships with family and friends. Partners of people with hearing loss often complain of loneliness, missing out on companionship and a poor social life.
Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. You could be missing out on devices that could help you hear better and improve you and your partner's quality of life.
There is a huge amount of hearing loss help available, including digital hearing aids, which are now much smaller and easier to control.
There are also gadgets to make your life easier, including extra-loud landlines and mobile phones, amplifiers and flashing doorbells, and even vibrating alarm clocks and watches.
If a person is reluctant to get hearing aids they may be encouraged to use an “assistive listening device” to watch TV, listen to the radio or music and to use a suitable phone to keep in touch with family and friends.
- If you’re worried about hearing loss, contact your GP, an audiologist or hearing clinic.
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