Unlike vision loss where people tend to promptly seek assistance by wearing glasses, hearing loss tends to be ignored, become rationalized by age, or is blamed on others for not speaking clearly enough.
According to the Stats Canada Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS), 6% of adults over the age of 55 report limitations as a result of hearing loss and this number increases to nearly 36% of adults aged 75 and older. In total, this works out to roughly 966,000 Canadians who are willing to report awareness of hearing loss (and that’s not considering those who are possibly in denial).
Many people are simply unaware of signs and symptoms of hearing loss, the benefits of early detection and intervention, and what resources are available. In order to reduce the likelihood of a hearing loss going undetected, being ignored and left untreated, here is what you can watch for:
- Is there a problem?: The most common signs of hearing loss are needing repetition, turning the volume up on the television, difficulty hearing on the telephone, difficulty hearing clearly, difficulty hearing in background noise, and failing to hear common household sounds like the doorbell.
- Schedule a hearing test: Annual hearing testing is recommended for adults over the age of 55, even if they do not suspect a hearing loss. Hearing test results are medical records and, as such, are kept on file for 7 years. These results can be used as a baseline to compare with any future hearing evaluations. The best thing is that hearing testing is complimentary and does not require a referral from your family doctor or ENT specialist.
- Investigate available resources: While hearing aids are often recommended to treat hearing loss, there are other helpful devices that you may not have considered. For example, amplified telephones boost the volume of incoming calls and can often be adjusted for tone and customized for your hearing loss. TV devices, amplified alarm clocks, and alerting systems for doorbells and smoke detectors are also available.
If you believe that your parents, grandparents or friends are suffering from a hearing loss, the best thing you can do for them is to speak up and, if necessary, help them choose a hearing care provider to work with them on their individual needs. For more information on hearing loss and available resources, or to take a free online hearing test, visit www.mainlandhearing.com.
Doctor of Audiology, Certified Audiologist by SAC & Registered Hearing Instrument Practitioner by the College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of BC.