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ONE IN FIVE

Only one in five adults with hearing loss
in Ireland have hearing aids

Posted: 25th May 2017

 

A recent large study involving 6,000 Irish adults aged over 54 years has found that only 21% of those who indicated they had a hearing loss have got hearing aids. The study was published in March by TILDA – The Irish Longtitudinal Study on Ageing. This is a highly reputable study with a large sample that is representative of the older Irish population.

DeafHear.ie One in Five 2017.

The study found, as expected, that a lot of Irish adults are affected by hearing loss, with 37% of the participants indicating that they had some level of hearing loss. The HSE estimate that over 250,000 Irish adults (8%) have a significant hearing loss and need hearing aids to communicate effectively in their daily lives. However, we now know that only a fraction of this number have been fitted with hearing aids – with up to 200,000 Irish adults not having any treatment for their hearing loss.

Impact on Health and Wellbeing.

Many international studies have found that hearing loss has a serious impact on the health of those affected, including increased rates of depression, cognitive decline, and dementia. People with mild to severe hearing loss have been found to have two to five times the risk of dementia compared to hearing peers.

The TILDA study found increased rates of loneliness and reduced social participation among participants with hearing loss. The TILDA report also stated that “fair or poor hearing tend to have a higher number of depressive symptoms compared to those with better self-rated hearing.” These findings are highly consistent with international research.

Delay in getting hearing aids

It is widely estimated that adults wait up to ten years before seeking support with a hearing loss, resulting in worse outcomes for their health and wellbeing. There is a lot of research to show that for most people the fitting of hearing aids has a positive impact on their health and wellbeing, reduces social isolation and even slows down the rate of cognitive decline associated with hearing loss.

Reasons suggested for this delay include a lack of awareness due to the typically gradual onset of hearing loss in adults, a perceived stigma associated with wearing hearing aids, and the cost of the hearing aids themselves. A lack of awareness among health professionals such as GPs and PHNs is also a factor.   

 

And it appears that Irish adults are waiting longer than most to get hearing aids and that cost is a significant factor.

 

DeafHear has recently seen figures which show that hearing aids are fitted at a much lower rate per head of population in Ireland compared to the UK. Over the last three years (2014–2016) in the UK hearing aids were fitted at the rate of 25 aids per 1,000 of the population per year. In Ireland the corresponding figure was 11 aids per 1,000 of the population.

The TILDA study found that participants with medical cards were twice as likely to have hearing aids as those who didn’t. This is significant as those with a medical card are entitled to get hearing aids free from the HSE, while those who don’t are faced with paying anything from €2,000–€6,000 to purchase hearing aids. The TILDA finding is clear evidence that cost is a significant barrier for many Irish adults to get hearing aids.

People who qualify for treatment benefit from the Department of Social Protection, and from March 2017 self–employed people may also be eligible, receive a grant of up to €1,000 towards the purchase of hearing aids. However, this still means the individual is faced with a major bill if they are to purchase hearing aids.

Health Inequality

DeafHear.ie One in Five 2017.

“In effect, there is a major health inequality between those who can access hearing aids via the HSE and those who must purchase them” says Brendan Lennon, DeafHear’s Head of Advocacy. For the first time we now have clear evidence that many Irish people experience significant delays in getting hearing aids, and for many, cost is a major contributing factor. We have known for some time that hearing loss has a major impact on health and wellbeing and that the fitting of hearing aids results in significant benefits in terms of health and quality of life. And now we know that the cost is a major barrier for many Irish people and that only one in five of those who need hearing aids actually have them.

In terms of population health and addressing health inequality, it makes economic and ethical sense to address this situation. “DeafHear will be calling on the Government to significantly increase the level of the hearing aid grant in the next Budget, particularly for those who are trying to get hearing aids for the first time,” says Lennon.

 

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Trinity Study confirms low use of hearing aids by Irish adults
Posted: March 2017

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DeafHear.ie Trinity Study confirms low use of hearing aids by Irish adults

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.

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

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

 

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