Australians with hearing loss 'missing out' on experiences

25 August, 2014

Imagine the confusion of not hearing Rhett Butler's final quip to Scarlet O'Hara in Gone with the Wind. Or not quite being sure whether Arnold Schwarzenegger said he was going to 'Be back', or even straining to hear loved ones sing Happy Birthday.

During Hearing Awareness Week (24-30 August), Australian Hearing is celebrating the hundreds of thousands of Australians who have overcome their hearing loss and are living lives to their full potential. It is also inviting those who are yet to address their hearing loss to take action today - to ensure a better tomorrow.

Untreated hearing loss

Whilst more people than ever are getting their hearing checked, new research by Australian Hearing has revealed that thousands of Australians are still getting by on piecing together conversations and missing important moments, with the results having a lasting emotional impact, not only on them, but their loved ones too.

The research has identified more than 87 per cent of Australians with untreated hearing loss struggle to follow conversations.

Half of these people believe hearing loss limits sharing of thoughts and feelings, leading to many important family moments being missed. The same numbers are also aware that those close to them feel a sense of frustration due to their inability to hear properly.

This story is mirrored throughout the support network around people who experience hearing loss.

Six out of ten loved ones try to take special care to help ensure that the person with hearing loss does not feel left out, such as making an effort to speak in ways which are more likely to be understood.

Yet, the research reveals that almost a quarter (21 per cent) of family and friends admit they choose not to confide in their loved one with hearing difficulties, as much as they otherwise would.

Proper diagnosis

Principal Audiologist at Australian Hearing, Janette Thorburn, said hearing loss can be managed effectively with proper diagnosis and treatment, and with 490 Australian Hearing locations nationwide, there is access to support and technology in most communities, both regional and metro.

"The research shows clearly that the benefits of doing something about your hearing loss, far outweighs the reasons to do nothing.

"We support thousands of people with varying degrees of hearing loss, to continue to enjoy sound, despite their hearing loss.

"Hearing is an essential element to communication and Australian Hearing is dedicated to improving people with hearing difficulties' lives because, without exception, everyone says they wish they had done something about their hearing loss sooner.

"Their overall quality of life improves instantly; they literally celebrate their hearing," said Thorburn.

An estimated 3.5 million Australians have some degree of hearing loss and over half the population aged between 60 and 70 suffer.