Three waves of the over 50s instinct and reason study (n=3,085) asked questions about hearing, hearing aid use and their wellbeing.
Dr Anthony Hogan, Faculty of Health Sciences, from the University of Sydney, has prepared a report on the basis of that data.
Of people aged over 50 years, our analysis found that:
- 70% % of over 50s rated their health or their hearing (73%) positively
- 27% rated their hearing as fair or poor
- People with fair to poor hearing reported fair to poor health
- 15% reported owning a hearing aid
- Hearing aid usage increases with age
- Regular device users reported usage of 8 hours per day
- Device usage is associated with self-rated hearing difficulties of fair or poor hearing
- 32% rarely if ever used their device.
Approximately 8%-10% of people aged over 50 years routinely experienced regular difficulties communicating e.g. hearing in social settings. Of those with fair to poor hearing who owned a hearing aid, 42% experienced difficulties hearing in social settings most, if not all the time.
The majority of hearing aid users (86%) are on government aged pensions or may be on News start allowance and as such may be people who receive Commonwealth hearing aid assistance through its voucher scheme. Assuming that the majority of these people in fact access a hearing aid through the Commonwealth system, the cost to society of people not using government funded hearing aids is approximately $900 million over the life of each voucher cycle.
The existing device-centric model of hearing services has been in operation for some 70 years. During this time there have been substantive social and technical developments in methods for enhancing the quality of life of people with acquired hearing loss. The data shows that hearing aids are not the sole answer to addressing hearing impairment. A substantive review of the efficacy and efficiency of the existing model of hearing services in Australia is indicated.