Three in every four people over 70 are affected by hearing loss
With an ageing population, hearing loss is projected to increase to 1 in every 4 Australians by 2050. In the lead up to NSW Seniors Festival 2017, held Friday 3 March to Sunday 12 March, RIDBC health professionals are calling for Australians to take action on hearing loss by adding a visit to an audiologist to their annual list of medical check-ups.
“The ability to hear clearly is essential to maintaining a good quality lifestyle and enjoyment, and your overall health. People need to be aware of how important it is to maintain healthy hearing, so they can continue to interact with the things and people they love, and reach their full potential,” said Bart Cavalletto, RIDBC Director of Services.
People with severe to profound hearing loss can struggle to hear in crowded places, find it difficult to keep up at work and often have problems talking with family and friends.
“Adults who lose their hearing later in life can often find the experience very isolating. However, with the right technology and expert support, many adults who are losing their hearing can now take positive steps to manage that process. Something as simple as hearing their partner or grandchildren again is now possible thanks to implantable technology like the cochlear implant.
“Through SCIC Cochlear Implant Program, an RIDBC service, we have the pleasure of engaging with seniors every day, supporting individuals through every stage of their cochlear implant journey to ensure they achieve the best outcomes,” said Bart.
For 62 year old, Clare White, a cochlear implant has proved life changing. Clare, who was born with cerebral palsy, was diagnosed with hearing loss at age 14.
“It is likely I had some degree of hearing loss at birth, although I was only diagnosed in my early teens after successive episodes of Meniere’s Disease increased the severity,” said Clare. “I had also developed very good lip-reading skills by this time, which probably contributed to my late diagnosis.”
Clare started out using bi-lateral hearing aids and by her early thirties was profoundly deaf.
“My hearing slowly diminished over the years and after further Meniere’s attacks my useful hearing reduced to virtually none. I was also a participant in studies at the National Acoustics Laboratory and for a while I used devices which converted sounds to vibrations that I felt through a wrist-band,” said Clare.
After a visit to an Audiologist and losing her hearing aid on a rollercoaster ride, Clare decided it was time for a cochlear implant and hasn’t looked back since.
“I was very excited during ‘switch on’, although also unsure of what to expect. Even though the sound was very different to anything I’d previously experienced, it was fantastic to be hearing again!”
It’s now easier to follow my favourite TV programs and to have conversations with family and friends again over the phone. I’m also enjoying listening to the music of my youth and favourite bands – especially the Seekers and the Beatles!” said Clare.
What would Clare say to other people struggling with hearing aids?
“The decision to have a cochlear implant is a very personal one and I’m sure must be especially difficult if you have some “usable” hearing. However, if you’ve got nothing, then you really have nothing to lose.”
For more information about cochlear implants or SCIC Cochlear Implant Program, visit ridbc.org.au/scic or call 1300 658 981.
RIDBC is Australia’s largest non-government provider of therapy, education and cochlear implant services for people with vision or hearing loss, supporting thousands of adults, children and their families, each year.
RIDBC is a charity and relies heavily on fundraising and community support to be able to continue to make a difference in the lives of children and adults with vision or hearing loss.