August 3, 2023

Hearing Loss and Dementia… and Lazy Words

You may have read our previous post highlighting Emily Dixon’s article in the Sunday Times on 16th July 2023.

For Times subscribers you can read the whole article HERE.

The article discusses research showing the possible connection between dementia and hearing loss and how good hearing aids can make a difference.

While we’re very happy to help champion such research (with the caveats discussed in our previous post) we felt we should also call out some unhelpful stereotypes and inaccuracies reinforced in the text and which, bearing in mind the thrust of the article, are both misleading and unhelpful.

A few of sentences from the article in particular caught our eye:

Wearing a hearing aid could make all the difference — but many people are put off by the stigma”.

What stigma is this? After all, how many devices are there now clamoring to invade our ‘ear space’ –  just get on a train, bus, or walk down the street, headphones, Bluetooth headsets, air pods and in-ear tracking devices, are everywhere. So why do journalists feel the need to separate and identify the visibility of a hearing aid and its ‘stigma’ from these other devices?

If there’s one thing this article highlights, it’s the fact that we should focus on the many positives of hearing technology rather than dragging up outdated and lazy views of them.

Another quote;

“A 2020 study carried out in Wales found that 20 percent of people given hearing aids don’t use them at all, while 30 percent use them only some of the time. Livingston notes that the brain takes time to adjust to the fiddly devices.”

This again reinforces a negative attitude to hearing aids. If fitted correctly by a dedicated audiologist who has the time to counsel patients correctly, our experience is that people will wear hearing aids 100% of the time. The issue is not with the hearing aids but with the time offered to the patient by an overstretched health service or by sales-based hearing aid suppliers who only focus on the next sale.

To back this up, a final quote from the Times article:

“You need to manage things (hearing aids) such as cleaning them and changing batteries — and they’re tiny,” says Dr. Sergi Costafreda Gonzalez, a clinical senior lecturer in older people’s mental health at UCL. He conducted a study that found that patients given extra support after being prescribed hearing aids were far more likely to use them. Their cognition, mood, and memory appeared to improve too.”

This is absolutely THE point – professional care, counseling, instructional guidance and access to a knowledgeable and dedicated professional is what makes ALL the difference… and  why the outcomes at Hearing Healthcare Practice are so very successful.)

So please, let’s rid the journalistic world of outdated stereotypes, and accept there’s no substitute for dedicated care when it comes to successful hearing outcomes.