Hearing loss is a common problem caused by noise, ageing, disease and heredity. Seventy-three percent of Australians aged over 70 have a mild to severe hearing loss. This percentage rises as age increases.
Age related hearing loss is often gradual so you may not realise that you are losing some of your ability to hear.
Signs of Hearing Loss
You should see your doctor or hearing professional if you:
Have trouble hearing over the phone.
Find it hard to follow conversations when two or more people are talking
Often ask people to repeat what they are saying
Need to turn up the TV volume so loud that others complain
Have problems hearing because of background noise
Think that others seem to mumble
Have trouble understanding higher pitched voices.
Ignored or untreated hearing problems can get worse and lead to serious consequences. People with hearing loss may find it frustrating or embarrassing to have conversations with friends and family, which can lead to less interaction with people, social isolation and higher rates of loneliness and depression. Studies have shown that cognitive abilities decline faster in older adults with hearing loss, and they have a greater risk of developing dementia.
There are treatments available including hearing aids but many people who would benefit from hearing aids wait 6 – 10 years before seeking them. Some Australians are eligible for fully subsidised hearing aids and services. You can check your eligibility at https://hearingservices.gov.au/
People who are reluctant to get hearing aids, or don’t use them, can benefit from the use of assisted listening devices, such as personal amplifiers and television headsets. Alert devices that work with doorbells, smoke detectors and alarms to send you visual signals or vibrations can also help.
The most important thing you can do if you think you have a hearing problem is to seek professional advice.