It can be hard for Kiwis to talk about the social stigma associated with wearing a hearing aid. But it doesn’t need to be.
Triton Hearing’s Head of Innovation and audiologist Craig Lett admits there is a stigma with hearing aids still being perceived as 'big old things grandparents wear'.
But the reality is this is far from the truth. Lett says technology has changed so much. "Hearing aids are becoming more health-centred. It’s no longer just about making sounds louder. Modern hearing aids are advanced processors helping you focus on the sounds that are most important."
In fact soon we’ll be able to use hearing aids to monitor the entire health of people.
"We’re currently seeing a huge advancement in technology," Lett says. "We’ll eventually be able to monitor heart rate and blood pressure through hearing aids. We’ll be able to look at the health of the whole person and not just a specific part."
"Now hearing aids can be invisible, like contact lenses for your ears. They can be used until the battery runs out and then you can replace them easily."
"We find people often don’t notice how bad their hearing has become. With eye glasses - you think ‘I can’t read, maybe I should get some glasses?’ It’s the same with hearing aids – people say ‘my hearing is pretty good unless there is some background noise’. This is one of the first signs of hearing loss, so we recommend getting a hearing test if this is the case."
"Hearing loss means our brain has to work harder: we feel more tired, it is harder to remember what people have been saying, and we start withdrawing in social situations."
March 3 is Hearing Awareness Day, and the World Health Organisation is highlighting the fact timely and effective interventions can ensure people with hearing loss are able to achieve their full potential.
Lett says it’s great well-known Kiwis like Lily McManus are starting to speak about how they wear hearing aids, and are not ashamed of this.
Through-out March getting your ears tested is even easier to do. The Great Big Hearing Check consists of a quick hearing check online at www.greatbighearingcheck.co.nz or via Triton Hearing Kiosks in selected Unichem and Life Pharmacies, Farmlands Stores or in a or your local Triton Hearing clinic. The check gives an indication if there has been any hearing loss detected, and can help those who do have a loss to do something about it in a timely manner. Plus for every hearing check completed over the month of March, Triton Hearing will donate $1 to National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, to help support those with hearing loss across NZ.
Last year more than 9,000 people joined the Great Big Hearing Check.
Lett says there are many benefits for testing your hearing regularly. "Early identification and monitoring for any change is important so we can do something about the problem quickly. The other benefit is to pick up any other health related issues. We like to deal with the whole self.
In 2019 the NZ Hearing Industry Association research showed 480,000 people were living in New Zealand with hearing loss, with only 200,000 wearing hearing aids. That means around 280,000 people live with the daily challenges of hearing loss - when they don’t need to be.
Other recent research suggests hearing health is an important part of living a fulfilling life. It can be gradual, and something that many learn to ‘cope’ with, however can start to impact social interaction, mental health and can contribute to cognitive decline, including illness such as dementia.
Lett’s advice is simple - "Be aware of your hearing. Do check your ears even when you think nothing is wrong. And help people in your family if you think they’re in denial too."
With the Great Big Hearing check you can easily sit around a computer and do the test together. Or go into a Triton Hearing clinic and selected partner locations to take the test on a Triton Hearing Kiosk. It only takes a few minutes. The online hearing test indicates whether there could be a problem, and if there is, you can then book a free appointment at Triton Hearing with a professional audiologist to talk about your hearing.
This article is created for Triton Hearing