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Hearing Loss increases faster for people in their 90s

Posted: 2nd November 2016

 

DeafHear.ie Hearing Loss increases faster for people in their 90s.

 


A new study in the United States has shown that the severity of hearing loss increases significantly for people in their 90s. Hearing loss is very common in older adults. It is the third most common health condition in adults, and affects approximately 66% of those aged over 70, and 80 % of those aged over 85. The authors note that hearing loss ‘is a major public health concern that is associated with numerous deleterious effects’.  

The study was focussed on examining the rate of hearing decline across frequencies for elderly people. In general it found that people had a higher rate of hearing decline in their 90s compared to their 80s. However, while all of the study participants had hearing loss, only 59% used hearing aids. The authors proposed that hearing loss should be treated as a chronic disease rather than a ‘patient–initiated’ condition.

 

‘There is urgency to increase hearing aid use among the older population because untreated hearing loss is asociated with higher risks for social isolation, depression, dementia, inability to work, reduced physical activity, and falls.’ (Wattamwar et al, 2016).

 

They also state that people with hearing loss should be encouraged to accept hearing aids and that they should be educated ‘about their positive effect on the quality of life, enhancing cognition, and decreasing the burden of disease.’ The authors also suggest that impediments to hearing aid use need to be addressed, including high cost, complex dispensing procedures, and social stigma.


Cost of Hearing Aids a barrier

Brendan Lennon, DeafHear’s Head of Advocacy says that we have to make hearing aids more affordable for people. “In Ireland we dispense hearing aids at roughly half the rate per head of population compared to the UK. The main reason for this difference is that almost everyone can get free hearing aids from the National Health Service in the UK, while here the majority of people have to pay privately for hearing aids.”

A pair of hearing aids typically can cost from over €1,000 up to €6,000, depending on an individual’s lifestyle and needs. There is a small grant available to those who qualify for the Treatment Benefit Scheme of €500 per hearing aid (up to a maximum of 50% of the value). In the recent Budget the Minister for Social Protection announced that self–employed people will become eligible for this grant sometime in 2017, and while this is a welcome development, the low level of the grant inevitably means that people who are purchasing hearing aids are faced with a very large bill.

Lennon says that the Government should be doing more to encourage people with hearing loss to get hearing aids earlier, through lowering costs and educating people on the benefits of hearing aids for their health and quality of life. “The present situation where most people with hearing loss have had no hearing test and no treatment is a false economy, and we are simply increasing the health burden into the future” he said.

   

DeafHear’s “Mind Your Hearing” Campaign

Check out DeafHear’s Mind Your Hearing Campaign to encourage people to seek treatment for their hearing loss earlier.

[Read On]

DeafHear.ie The Mind Your Hearing website provides relevant up to date information on acquired hearing loss.

Concerned About Hearing Loss Leaflet

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Media Contacts

DeafHear.ie will provide spokespersons to comment on issues relevant to Deaf and Hard of Hearing people on request. To contact Brendan Lennon; Head of Information and Policy, click here...

Reference:
Wattamwar, K. et al. Increases in the Rate of Age–Related Hearing Lossin the Older Old. JAMA Otolaryngology?Head & Neck Surgery. Published online September 2016.

 

    


 

more...Hearing loss costs an estimated €2.2bn every year in Ireland.

 

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