To recognise Hearing Awareness Week (August 24-30), the National Rural Health Alliance and the National Relay Service (NRS) have released a joint Fact Sheet on hearing loss in rural Australia. Through the Fact Sheet, people in rural areas can gain a better understanding of how their behaviour and environment might be putting their hearing at risk, and what options they have for diagnosis, treatment and assistance. www.ruralhealth.org.au/factsheets
One in six Australians is affected by hearing loss – that’s an estimated 3.5 million people. It can have a big impact on a person’s health. For younger people it may mean reduced opportunity to get a good education and gain competitive skills and employment. Older people may be unable to hold down a job or enjoy recreational activity. Hearing loss also puts a strain on relationships and a person's ability to interact socially.
Hearing loss can result from a range of factors, or simply be the product of ageing. Often it can be prevented, or at least its impact on one’s life mitigated, through timely screening, rehabilitation and management.
Managing Director of NRS Outreach, Deb Fullwood, observed that communication is important for all of us. "But when you live in the country, being able to make phone calls effectively is even more important - but this can be very hard if you have a hearing impairment. The NRS is a government initiative that solves this. The NRS lets people with a hearing or speech impairment make all their calls – social and business. They can make new contacts, maintain their independence and self-confidence, and contact health providers.”
NRHA Executive Director Gordon Gregory said that many people simply don't realise that their behaviour might be harming their hearing. "We know there's a clear link between noise exposure and hearing loss, and we're constantly being encouraged to take protective measures. Too often the warning falls on deaf ears.”
"Only 10-20 per cent of people who could benefit from a hearing aid wear them. This makes no sense. Tackling the problem early can improve hearing and quality of life, including your relationships. So if you experience hearing loss - acknowledge it and have it checked!"
Hearing Awareness Week highlights the issues faced by people with hearing loss. On its website www.hearingawarenessweek.org.au you'll find a range of useful fact sheets, a list of what's on in your State or Territory, resources for you to promote the Week, and a noise simulator to help you understand 'how loud is too loud'.
Deb Fullwood, Managing Director, NRS Outreach: 0414 616 014
Gordon Gregory, Executive Director, NRHA: 02 6285 4660