One in five adults in the UK has hearing loss, meaning optical practices come into contact with somebody that has reduced hearing all the time. Yet hearing loss is often ‘invisible’, and we do not always realise people might have difficulty understanding us because they struggle to hear higher pitched sounds and in other specific circumstances. Because people with hearing loss are more likely to be aged 60 and older, people might also – wrongly – assume any difficultly with understanding is due to ‘simply getting older’. It is this that means most hearing loss is never acted upon.
The impact of unsupported hearing loss is wide reaching. Without support people with reduced hearing are at greater risk of social isolation, for example, have reduced mental wellbeing and are more likely to be unemployed. Reduced hearing obviously affects communication as well and research has shown unsupported hearing loss can have a negative impact on the quality of life of friends and family too, not just the individual with hearing loss.
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