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Community Hearing Loss Forum 2018

Thanks to everyone who joined us for our 2018 Community Hearing Loss Forum. More than 60 people attended including staff board members, volunteers, consumer representatives and members of the community.

The forum looked at hearing loss in people over the age of 60. This topic is of increasing importance for Australia's ageing population: one in three people over 60 experiencing hearing loss and by 2050 over 900 million people worldwide (that’s one in every ten people) will have disabling hearing loss. 

COO Jenni Bliss and colleaguesThe guest speakers, ENT surgeon Dr Jean-Marc Gerard and audiologist Dr Caitlin Barr, spoke about why early intervention is so critical, what clinical treatments are available now and where research and technology will take us.

Caitlin’s presentation looked at some of the barriers to older adults seeking help for hearing loss and how to overcome these.

Jean-Marc spoke about deafness as ‘the invisible disability,’ some of the varied causes, and the connections between hearing loss and cognitive decline. He highlighted the prevalence and impact of hearing loss: it is the the third most common chronic condition that affects quality of life in older adults, and has an economic impact to Australia of $17.4 billion annually.

He also highlighted current research looking into the association between untreated hearing loss and cognitive decline, including studies that show that correcting hearing loss can reduce the risk of dementia.

Both speakers touched on the importance of continued research into hearing loss. Caitlin is currently conducting research into age related hearing loss and is looking for participants (adults over the age of 60 with hearing loss who have spoken with their GP about hearing loss and GPs who currently see adult patients. Find out more here. 

Here are some top tips from Caitlin Barr on looking after your hearing and being proactive about your hearing as you age:

  • Think about your hearing, and hearing of those close to you as an important part of your overall wellbeing – it keeps you connected and communicating.
  • Seek out, or ask for regular hearing checks (just like you have your teeth, eyes and blood pressure checked) – use technology to help you if that suits you best.
  • Have a conversation with your GP about hearing and what to expect as you age.
  • Find an audiologist convenient to you - get to know them, ask questions and discuss options. Then if you notice any changes in your hearing or feel like you’re ready for some assistance, you know who to speak to.
  • There are many great resources online about hearing and hearing loss. A great place to start is HEARnet.
The audience at the Community Hearing Loss Forum Dr Caitlin Barr Dr Jean-Marc Gerard

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