Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent health issues facing older Canadians today, and a major cause of disability. As large proportions of the population reach retirement age, the incidence of hearing loss will only increase, contributing to an escalating issue. The World Health Organization (WHO) designated March 3rd as World Hearing Day to elevate concerns around the many impacts of hearing loss and to raise awareness around the importance of maintaining proper hearing health. The WHO’s World Hearing Day puts a punctuation mark on the efforts already underway in Canada by The National Campaign for Better Hearing, an initiative established with three simple goals: inform and educate Canadians about hearing health and the dangers of untreated hearing loss, provide free hearing screening to every Canadian over the age of 60, and to make hearing aids accessible to Canadians who otherwise could not afford them.
“As the largest network of hearing health clinics in Canada, we felt it was important to not only give back in the communities in which we operate, but to educate all Canadians about the importance of maintaining hearing health. The National Campaign for Better Hearing allows us to be involved on an even larger scale,” says audiologist Mike Curry, Director of Operations for ListenUP! Canada, HearingLife Canada and National Affiliated Partners. “Hearing loss affects one in five Canadians and can often result in a multitude of negative economic, social and emotional impacts – these not only take a significant toll on the individual, but on the health system, overall. To date, the Campaign for Better Hearing has received an outstanding response and we continue to educate, test for hearing loss, and provide the latest in hearing aid technology to members of our communities in need.”
Established in 2014, the National Campaign for Better Hearing provides proper hearing assessments to all Canadians over the age of 60 for free, and gives back in local communities by making a donation for every test conducted. Proceeds raised from each assessment go to providing hearing aids to those who cannot afford them. To date, the campaign has raised over $400,000—the result of performing over 126,750 hearing tests – 93 Canadians from coast-to-coast have received new hearing aids from the initiative and the numbers continue to grow.
“I speak with clients every day and understand the many challenges those with hearing loss face,” says Jillian Price, Chief Audiologist for ListenUP! Canada, HearingLife Canada and National Affiliated Partners. “The impact of hearing loss far exceeds the condition itself, patients who have not sought evaluation and treatment and have unmanaged hearing issues often become socially withdrawn and isolated, leading to depression and anxiety. This impacts not only the patients, but everyone around them. I feel so privileged to see the faces of our clients who receive new hearing aids from the campaign and they are finally able to hear properly – it truly is the best part of my job.”
According to Statistics Canada, more than one million adults across the country reported having a hearing-related disability, more than 50 per cent greater than the number of people reporting problems with their eyesight 1. Aging is the most common cause of hearing loss and strategies designed to improve the hearing health of Canadians are critical, to manage this rising epidemic.
Price adds, “ninety per cent of people with hearing loss can improve communication using a properly fitted hearing aid, counseling or environmental changes. With initiatives like the Campaign for Better Hearing, there is no excuse to not properly address a decline in hearing that can create negative outcomes for patients, their families, and friends. The slogan of the Campaign is Test Your Ears at 60 Years because while early detection may not prevent hearing loss, it can help reduce some of its effects and resolve existing issues.”
The Campaign for Better Hearing set a 2017 goal to raise $300,000 for new hearing aids, representing 75,000 hearing tests. More than 200 local clinics are participating in the nation-wide campaign and all have committed to donating $4.00 for every test, in order to provide hearing aids to those who cannot afford them. While the Campaign is targeting Canadians ages 60 and over, ListenUp! Canada, HearingLife Canada, and its National Affiliated Partners will provide a free baseline-hearing screening to any adult, 18 or over – no referrals are required. The free screening and consultation can be completed in only 60 minutes. Visit CampaignForBetterHearing.org or call 1-888-904-8742 to schedule your free test.