More people get hearing aids in 2017

Hearing loss is in fact a very common condition, with one in six adults having some level of hearing loss. In Ireland, it is estimated that over 300,000 adults have a moderate or greater hearing loss – and without hearing aids all of these people will struggle with daily communication activities. Based on TILDA’s findings, 250,000 of them don’t have hearing aids yet.

Other research shows that untreated hearing loss increases a range of health risks for those affected, including higher levels of anxiety and frustration, faster rates of cognitive decline and increased risk of social isolation and loneliness.

On the other hand, more than 90% of those who get hearing aids report high levels of satisfaction, improved quality of life and better social relationships. And the sooner people get hearing aids, the greater the levels of satisfaction they report.

33% Increase in Hearing Aid grants

DeafHear was encouraged to learn recently from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection that there was a significant increase in the numbers of people availing of the PRSI Hearing Aid grant during 2017. The number of people who got the grant rose from 8,463 in 2016 to 11,280 in 2017, an increase of 33%.

It is likely that a major element in the increase was due to the extension of the scheme to self–employed people for the first time in 2017.

Welcoming the increase Brendan Lennon, DeafHear’s Head of Advocacy says that from a population health and a quality of life perspective, the more people who get hearing aids the better. “We know that many people with hearing loss in Ireland, literally 100s of thousands, could have a better quality of life if they get hearing aids,” he says.

Cost of Hearing Aids

While people who have medical cards are entitled to free audiology services, including hearing aids, from the HSE, other citizens must purchase hearing aids themselves. The hearing aid grant is set at a maximum of 50% of the cost up to a maximum grant of €500 per hearing aid. But most hearing aids cost well in excess of €1,000, says Lennon. “The Government and the Health Authorities has to do more to help. Even with the grant of up to €1,000, typically many people are faced with paying an additional €2,000 to €5,000 themselves, depending on the kind of hearing aids they need,” he adds.

DeafHear believes that cost is a significant barrier preventing many people from seeking help for their hearing loss earlier.

Concerned about Hearing Loss?

If you are someone who thinks they may have a hearing loss, we strongly encourage you to take action and have a hearing assessment. Who knows… you might be lucky and your problems may be simply due to ear wax! And if you do need to get hearing aids, more than 90% of people report that hearing aids improve their quality of life.

If you are a medical card holder, ask your GP to make a referral to your local HSE Audiology services. If you are not a medical card holder, we suggest you seek out a trusted hearing aid provider in your area. You should be able to arrange a free hearing test. If you are advised that you need hearing aids, think carefully before you agree to any purchase. We suggest you read our leaflet ‘A guide to buying hearing aids’ first!

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