The odds are stacked against us when it comes to hearing loss
I don't like to admit it, but I have just taken an online hearing test after fearing I might be suffering from age-related hearing loss.
The issue arose after meeting an old pal last week who confessed to having installed a near-invisible in-ear (and expensive) hearing aid.
In his early sixties, he knew he was missing some conversations, especially in noisy eateries, but for vanity and fear of discrimination he was not prepared for any visible treatment.
Gladly technology and available funds - the devices are 'hired' at $4000 a year - proved his salvation, even though he was acutely aware of every squeaky passing wheel.
I, too, sometimes struggle to hear people at crowded parties or make sense of actors in contemporary cinema (is the sound mixed with older audiences in mind?) so I am looking into the issue.
There are many causes for hearing loss, and some groups, such as indigenous Australians, are particularly at risk. But when it comes to age-related hearing loss, the numbers are stacked against us.
The health.gov.au website says hearing loss increases from about half of those aged 60-70, to 70% of those aged 70 and over and 80% of those aged 80 and over.
There are a good number of free online hearing tests. I chose one from Hearing Australia. It took five minutes with earplugs on the laptop.
I had to listen to a female voice reading three numbers from zero to nine with increasingly disruptive background noise and record the three digits.
"Your test results suggest that you may have some hearing loss, however, you've indicated you haven't encountered any issues."
I'm not sure if I will yet, but I was invited to visit one of their centres for a more comprehensive hearing assessment with an audiologist.
As with any symptoms you might come across on Dr Google, there's an uncanny tendency to feel you might have some or all of them regardless of the actual risk.
Hearing may be one such example. There are many good government sites, such as Health Direct to advise you. The first signs of hearing loss I recognised included:
- having trouble hearing in noisy places
- having trouble hearing conversations and understanding what people say
- have trouble understanding people unless they are facing you, or often needing to ask people to repeat themselves
- hearing sounds as muffled, as though people are mumbling
- needing to have the TV up louder than other people
I have also sought advice from CHOICE on hearing aids, and as a member of Costco, whom I tend to trust regarding service, price and product, I was interested in their hearing aid centre information.
In short, I'm not ready to consider a hearing aid yet, but I have become much more aware of the possible condition, which is unlikely to improve.
In the meantime, and to my wife's relief, I shall work harder at listening.
How about you? Where has the journey of age-related hearing loss taken you so far?
Do you just grin and bear it or have you sought help?
Any information contained in this communication is general advice, it does not take into account your individual circumstances, objectives, financial situation or needs.