Poor hearing health can lead to social isolation

Australians are being urged to stop ‘putting it off’ and have their hearing checked.

Marking Hearing Awareness Week (25 February to 3 March), the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) said one in six Australians had some form of hearing loss.

RIDBC’s Chris Rehn saidan estimated116,000 Australians aged 45 and over were at risk of severe to profound hearing loss but only three per cent would receive treatment.

This year, Hearing Awareness Week coincided with International Cochlear Implant Day last Sunday and World Hearing Day on Saturday 3 March.

Mr Rehn said hearing loss was frequently ignored.

“Far too often, Australians live in denial about their hearing loss and are reluctant to do anything about it - regularly ignoring pleas from family members,” he said.

“Those living with hearing loss can sometimes lose connections to people and activities they love the most, which can lead to social isolation.

“Whether you’re just starting to have concerns or you’re a person who has significant hearing impairment, it’s never too late to explore your options.”

Mr Rehn urged Australians to take five steps to better hearing health:

Schedule a hearing check-up. If you suspect your hearing is deteriorating, the first step is to talk to your GP or hearing health professional about any concerns you have.&nbspHelp encourage family and friends. Do you have a friend or family member who shows signs of hearing loss? Encourage them to seek the help they need for better hearing health.Think about those you rely on. Many people who have hearing loss but don't seek help rely heavily on friends and family for communication, using them as an ‘interpreter’ in social situations. Unfortunately, this can put a lot of pressure on relationships.  Make it part of your health routine. You would go to the dentist about your teeth, or a physio about your back, so why isn’t your hearing a priority? Make it part of your regular health routine.   Think about how you communicate when you are speaking to someone with hearing loss.Face the person and stand close to them  Speak clearly and do not cover your mouth or turn your head  Think about lighting and room acoustics when planning an event or organising a meeting Raise your voice slightly, but there is no need to shout  Be patient and don’t become frustrated if you are asked to repeat yourself.

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