Hearing loss: Don't suffer in silence
A survey commissioned by Specsavers uncovers some disturbing facts about peoples attitudes to hearing loss
Published 01/11/2010 | 04:48
THE most common symptom associated with hearing loss is loneliness with many people avoiding social situations, according to a Specsavers survey.
Unmanaged hearing loss also affects the hard of hearings’ relationships with partners, friends or family, who themselves suffer because their loved one can’t hear properly.
A survey commissioned by Specsavers hearing centres* also found that a third of people have lost touch with friends and, in some cases, seen marriages fall apart as a direct result of the breakdown in communication caused by hearing loss.
Removing the social stigma
It is an astonishing fact that, with the introduction of more affordable discreet digital aids, one in ten people would rather suffer in silence than wear a hearing aid because they would feel embarrassed.
Specsavers hearing aid audiologist, Colin Campbell, says: ‘Our research shows only too clearly how it is more obvious to others when someone is NOT wearing a hearing aid than when they are. It is staggering to think that 34% of people with hearing loss choose not to wear a hearing aid despite knowing this could restore their hearing to a normal level – it’s like being advised to wear glasses and choosing to ignore an optician’s advice."
"It is really important to remove the associated stigma of old age so we have less of the population suffering from loneliness and relationship problems because of their hearing problems. This could be simply managed with the correct treatment and aftercare."
When questioned, respondents said that the social exclusion they experienced as a result of their hearing loss left them feeling isolated, depressed, anti-social and with no self worth.
More positively, the survey did discover that 55% of people with a hearing aid said that the device has changed their life for the better and 45% admitted that wearing one has improved social situations.
More than half also agreed that an improvement in their hearing would make relationships between them and their family and friends more harmonious.
The survey also questioned people without a hearing loss. The figures reveal that one in three people have never had their hearing tested.
Says Mr Campbell: "A hearing test is as important as an eye examination and should take place every two years. Hearing loss is not just a consequence of age and with widespread use of MP3 players and exposure to loud music at events, it has become a health issue that affects all ages."
Despite the fact that hearing tests are free at Specsavers hearing centres, only 6% questioned have had a private hearing test. The Government considers hearing tests a vital health check for the over 60s.
To make an appointment for a free hearing test at one of over 400 Specsavers hearing centres across Ireland visit www.specsavers.co.ie/hearing
* Specsavers surveyed 1,500 people aged over 55 with hearing loss