Hearing loss in New Zealand 'worse than we think'

Lucy Rei (left) and Emma Symons (right) from Triton Hearing with Whakaaraia Tairawhitu-Kukutai at Parihaka Pa, Taranaki, 2018. Photo credit: Triton Hearing

Ground-breaking new research from the NZ Hearing Industry Association shows 480,000 people are living with hearing loss, but a whopping 280,000 don’t wear hearing aids.

The NZ Trak 2018 research shows 64% wish they had got a hearing aid sooner, and 72% of people waited more than three years to get their first device.

Hearing aid use significantly improves the mental wellbeing of users, improving social and family interactions, work performance and increased safety and independence.

James Whittaker, Managing Director, Triton Hearing with Simon Bridges, MP & Leader of the Opposition at Parliament. Photo credit: Triton Hearing

The research found 67% of people believe they cannot afford hearing aids. This is factually incorrect and an incorrect perception as 90% of people are eligible for government funding and subsidies. Hearing aids start at just $495 for a pair and there are also fully funded options available through ACC and Enable NZ for those eligible, but many may not realise this.

These alarming results, and their impacts on so many New Zealanders, are a major reason Triton Hearing created The Great Big Hearing Check 2019 campaign.

Triton Hearing’s managing director James Whittaker says healthy ageing is a goal we should all aspire to. "We know early intervention with hearing loss has a key part to play in ensuring we live life to the fullest."

"Whether you think you have a hearing loss or not, a quick hearing health check is the first step, and the friendly team at Triton Hearing have made it as simple as possible. I encourage you to join us at the Great Big Hearing Check. It might be a life changing decision."

On March 5 the distinctive purple bus ‘Penelope’ or ‘Te waka Āwhina’ parked up in front of Parliament with many MP’s jumping on board to get their hearing checked supporting the NZHIA initiative.

‘Penelope’ is a 1949 Bedford bus fitted out with state-of-the-art diagnostic hearing equipment and operates as a full service, mobile Triton TeleAudiology clinic.

This March, Hearing New Zealand is also getting behind the Great Big Hearing Check campaign encouraging people to get their hearing checked for free.  

The hope is to reduce the often-huge gap between having a noticeable hearing loss and doing something about it; an unnecessary period of poor hearing for the unknowing person.   

National president Tony Rush explains "If you even think you might have been exposed to excessive noise in the past or that your hearing could be a little sharper, having a free, convenient, quick preliminary test during the Great Big Hearing Check this March may set you mind at rest, or equally give it food for thought."

Along with some Hearing Association branches, the free and self-administrated hearing screen can be taken at selected Unichem and Life Pharmacies throughout New Zealand, and also at greatbighearingcheck.co.nz.

If the screen indicates a potential hearing loss, Triton Hearing will provide full diagnostic assessments with an audiologist free of charge at their 70 locations across New Zealand.

Lucy Rei and the Triton Hearing team who created the campaign are thrilled at the way in which Hearing New Zealand, Farmlands, Unichem and Life Pharmacies and so many New Zealanders have got behind the concept. 

Darren Ward, CEO NZ Hearing Industry Association, and Louisa Wall, MP. Photo credit: Triton Hearing

"More than 480,000 New Zealanders experience hearing loss and we’re passionate about supporting the NZHIA, Hearing New Zealand and the World Health Organisation’s drive to raise awareness about the importance of early identification and intervention for hearing loss. Hearing well is central to the health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders, their families and communities."

The aim is to create more understanding of the difficulties people who have some degree of hearing loss may suffer. "It can cause isolation and loss of life quality, but knowing people understand and will support you on your journey to better hearing can make a huge difference," she says.

Hearing loss affects one in six New Zealanders and by 2050 it will affect one in four, so it's important to identify the problem early. Once the degree of hearing loss is known, hearing devices can help, in fact 95% of wearers say hearing aids improve their quality of life*.

Gregg and Tina Parata, Ngati Ruanui and Ngaruahinerangi think better hearing helps people connect more effectively in their communities. Photo credit: Triton Hearing

Gregg Parata, Ngati Ruanui, Ngaruahinerangi says
"Relationally people connect better together at home, to their own family members, then they are able to engage more effectively in their community and this enables them to get connected again" 

Hearing Awareness Week ran from March 3 to 9 and the Great Big Hearing Check 2019 continues throughout March.

It’s easy to take part - visit greatbighearingcheck.co.nz and complete the easy, free three minute hearing check.

*NZ Trak 2018 

This article was created for Triton Hearing.