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The Impact of Hearing Loss in Adulthood

The World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts that over one third of those over 65 globally have a disabling hearing loss. However, the figures for disabling deafness are not evenly distributed across the globe – the website gives an interesting presentation of the facts and figures, please visit this World Health Organization (WHO) website page. The Global Burden of Disease study produced in 2008 by WHO ranks hearing loss as the eighth most important contributor to years of life lost through disability in the top 20 leading causes of burden of disease. World wide, hearing loss is predicted to be one of the highest health burdens, and in the UK, hearing loss affects 10 million people (2014 estimates).

The impact of hearing loss in adulthood is often not recognised but is linked to depression, increased risk of unemployment, increased risk of poor health, reduced mental health and increased risk of other conditions including dementia ([47]; [50]; see for reviews: [48]; [49]). Please visit this Starkey website page for more information on this and improving hearing loss.

Additionally, the UK’s 2012 GP survey showed that 83% of those with severe hearing impairment have and additional long term condition, and 33% have more than two long term additional conditions. Hearing loss reduces the quality of life across a large number of measures, increasing social isolation, reducing the ability to participate in all areas of social life, and contributing to further, consequent health problems.

Hearing loss in adulthood may have a sudden onset, or a progressive development. If sudden, the impact is huge and apparent:

“I wouldn’t go out. My wife would go on her own, because seeing people – there was no point.”

If the hearing loss progresses over time, then it may not be recognised, and on average, people take 10 years to seek help for their deafness. In addition, deafness in one member of the family affects the whole family with communication becoming a major issue.

Please visit the Hearing Link main website for easy-to-read information about hearing loss in adulthood, for the individual and the partner and to view videos. Please visit this Action on Hearing Loss website page to find their App to test your hearing yourself. Additionally, helpful videos of adults talking about their hearing loss can be found on the Phonak website and the Starkey website