Many people lose a bit of their hearing as they grow older, but some will be affected far more than others. However, despite the impact that hearing loss can have on quality of life, there is still a reluctance amongst many people to get their hearing tested.
According to a 2007 study, it takes on average a decade for most people to take a hearing test from when they first begin to notice hearing loss. A study a decade later found that the average had decreased to 8.9 years. A slight improvement but still indicative that there is a reluctance amongst many people to go get tested.
The company Specsavers have branched into offering hearing aids and hearing tests in recent years. However, getting a hearing test is yet to become as ubiquitous as getting an eye test. A recent survey that they performed in the UK with 2000 adults found that a third of them had noticed hearing changes recently. However, 57% of them had not taken any action.
Many cited embarrassment, lack of time, and other people they know not getting their own hearing tested as reasons for why they had not had a hearing test yet. Even Michael Mosley, a 66-year-old GP who is the face of Specsavers’ hearing test campaign in the UK, admitted that he was not yet using hearing aids despite noticeable hearing loss.
“I’m not quite ready for a hearing aid yet! My hearing’s not bad enough. I’ll go back in a year or so for another test,” he said, speaking to The Guardian.
While he does say this partially in jest, he joins a growing portion of the population who may be affected by hearing loss beyond just not being able to hear certain sounds. Untreated hearing loss can actually cause other complications that many people are not aware of.
While everyone understands that hearing loss makes it hard to communicate, it can actually affect quality of life strongly enough to cause depression. Hearing loss can also increase the risk of falls. Hearing is directly linked to balance, so not being able to hear certain sounds will gradually begin to affect how steadily someone can walk.
Untreated hearing loss can also lead to a 42% increase in the risk of developing dementia according to a study published in the Lancet. Treated hearing loss carries no increased risk of dementia.
If there is one thing to take away, it’s to not put off having a hearing test or using hearing aids. Hearing test providers (many of which offer free tests) can be found here. There is also a Hearing Services Program that offers subsidised hearing aids to pensioners and other concession card holders.