Health issues

Why hearing checks can be a vital part of maintaining a good social life

Aug 21, 2017

Australia is a nation built on its love of sport.

Whether it’s hitting a cricket ball in the backyard, cheering on our favourite team from the sidelines, or jumping in and having a crack at a social game with friends, Australians are front and centre, having a laugh and showing their support.

But what happens when you can’t participate in sport in the same way as you used to?

As we age, our hearing slowly deteriorates and it can impact our ability enjoy both the competitive and social side of sport. That’s because hearing is an important part of communication and when it begins to fade, our ability to keep up with conversations and fully participate in activities can be impacted.

Australian Hearing audiologist Janette Thorburn says keeping your hearing tip-top can help you enjoy this favourite Australian pastime for longer.

“One of the great things about team sports is the camaraderie and support, that feeling that you’re doing this together, and the satisfaction is increased when you achieve something because you’ve got all your mates around you,” she says.

“But to enjoy all aspects of sport you usually need to be able to hear what’s going on.”

For many people, catching up after the game for a drink, a meal or a chat is all part of the fun, but Thorburn explains some people feel embarrassed when they miss parts of the conversation because they can’t hear as well as they used to.

This can lead to people dropping out of teams or withdrawing from the social side of the activity.

She says a hearing check is the best way to address the issue.

“If you’re in those social situations and you feel like you’re missing out on things and you’re not quite getting what everyone is saying, it’s a good idea to have a quick hearing check to set your mind at ease,” she says.

Australian Hearing offers free hearing checks at its hearing centres around the country, as well online through their support service Hearing Help.

The organisation will also be setting up mobile hearing check-points around the country as part of The Big Aussie Hearing Check for Hearing Awareness week (August 20-26), where people can pop in for a free hearing check at their convenience.

Australians put off taking action on hearing loss for seven years on average after first noticing signs, when it should be something they address much earlier, like we do when our eyesight changes.

Thorburn says many people worry they’ll be told they need to be fitted with a hearing aid if the audiologist finds signs of hearing loss, but she explains this is not the case.

“They’ll be told what level their hearing is at and if they do have hearing loss they’ll be told what kinds of things could help them,” she says.

“There are other devices besides hearing aids that might be able to help them. Mainly, they’re going to get advice and information to make a choice that suits them best.”

You can find a mobile hearing check-point near you here.

When was your last hearing check? Do you participate in any sports?