Hearing loss isn’t just something that strikes in old age: you may be surprised to learn that more than 40 per cent of the over-50s are affected. Yet it’s a problem many sufferers don’t want to admit to. Around three million people with hearing loss severe enough to be classed as disabling have not sought help, according to a report by the British Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association in 2019.
Most people wait ten years on average before they seek help.
Quite apart from affecting the enjoyment of life, ‘untreated’ hearing loss is the leading preventable cause of dementia, says Francesca Oliver, an audiology adviser with the charity Action On Hearing Loss. One theory is that hearing loss causes brain shrinkage if the part of the brain associated with hearing becomes inactive. Even mild hearing loss makes you less aware of your surroundings, which can affect balance and lead to falls.
Delaying getting help can impact on mental health, too. A recent review found people with hearing loss are two-and-a-half times more likely to develop depression. This is because hearing loss can lead to social isolation, which is a big risk factor for depression.
Daily Mail Good Health spoke to four people in their 50s who have recently had hearing tests — with some unexpected results…