PORT Stephens residents are being urged to get their hearing tested and prioritise hearing health after 81 percent of people said hearing loss could affect relationships with friends and family.
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That’s according to a recent study which also revealed only four in 10 residents have had a hearing test in the last two years.
This is despite 78 percent of respondents recognising that hearing loss has a significant impact on the lives of those with the condition, including feelings of isolation, loss of confidence and stress.
The findings have spurred Port Stephens Council, Kate Washington MP, health experts and local community groups – such as Lions Clubs, Probus Clubs and Men’s Sheds to join forces for a public health awareness campaign.
Called “Implant Yourself Back Into Life”, the campaign aims to make Port Stephens a world leader in helping older adults benefit from better hearing, which may help keep the mind sharp and may help people have stronger social interactions.
Health experts and community leaders have thrown their weight behind the campaign by Cochlear and the SCIC Cochlear Implant Program a Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) service to help reduce the impact of hearing loss; a condition affecting half of all adults in Port Stephens.
Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer said support for this public health awareness campaign aligned with the council’s Ageing Strategy that aims to improve life for older people living in the local area. The council has already hosted a series of information sessions about hearing loss and will be distributing resources to help inform residents about addressing hearing loss.
“We’re proud many older Australians choose to live in Port Stephens and it’s our responsibility to continue to improve the livability of the local area and support the health of local residents,” he said.
“Being able to hear and communicate with friends and family is very important. I urge people to look after their hearing and seek advice if they have any concerns,” said Mayor Ryan Palmer.
Kate Washington MP, who was the first local member to get behind the campaign, recently attended a special event at the Hawks Nest Bridge Club with Associate Professor Kelvin Kong to highlight the importance of hearing health.
She said, “This research highlights why we should not be complacent with our hearing health. Being part of the conversation is crucial for community and family life and good hearing gives us the confidence to connect with people.”
“Taking a hearing test could be the first step towards improving your quality of life,” said Kate Washington MP.
Health experts want to reach out to the 56 per cent of residents in Port Stephens who believe hearing loss is unavoidable as we get older. Associate Professor Kelvin Kong, Consultant Ear Nose and Throat Surgeon and Worimi man, said more people were expected to develop hearing loss as the population ages, but it wasn’t an inevitable part of ageing.
“Many older people ignore their hearing loss or simply resign themselves to slowly going deaf, but this doesn’t have to be the case,” he said.
“The ability to hear properly connects us to our friends and family, keeping us switched on. If you notice any deterioration in you or your loved ones’ hearing, speak to a health professional about treatment options,” said Associate Professor Kelvin Kong.
In response to local hearing loss figures, Port Stephens residents will become the world’s first to benefit from a new online check to show if their hearing aids are enough.
The Hearing Aid Check (available at www.hearingaidcheck.com/au) is simple, free and can be completed on a home computer, tablet or mobile phone. Each user receives personalised results and recommendations, including if they should speak to a health professional about their hearing.