‘Still a stigma over hearing aids’

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New research revealing that wearing a hearing aid in middle age can lessen the risk of dementia has been welcomed as a “desperately needed” warning for Mid Ulster consumers.

“There is still a huge stigma about wearing a hearing aid,” reveals Cookstown audiologist Paul O’Hara.

“This is just the latest of several studies to find a link between improved hearing and improved brain power but people are absolutely shocked when I mention this during a consultation.

“The message about looking after your hearing health is not getting out to people, but it’s desperately needed.”

Last week the University of Exeter released a study analysing data on 25,000 volunteers aged 50 and over.

The findings provide early evidence that encouraging people to wear an effective hearing aid may help to protect their brains and reduce their risk of dementia.

Paul, based at the Hidden Hearing clinic in Oldtown Arcade, Cookstown, explains: “Most people are unaware that you hear with your brain, not just your ears.

“The brain’s ability to process auditory stimuli is affected by ageing which is why we encourage everyone aged 50 and over to get their hearing tested.

“We think nothing of getting our eyesight examined from a very young age. Yet people feel embarrassed about seeking help when it comes to hearing loss.

“But as this study shows, the sooner you get tested the better. Wearing a hearing aid keeps your brain active and that’s crucial in helping to preserve your memory function,” adds Paul.

“I’ve witnessed at first hand the benefits that a new hearing aid can bring to dementia patients. It’s a very emotional moment when you see them being able to do something as simple as follow a conversation.”

Hidden Hearing has more than 80 branches in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Over the past 30 years across Northern Ireland, it has worked hard to develop a reputation for offering world-class hearing healthcare services and lifelong support for our patients. They combine the latest technology with the highest standards in professional training while conducting over 60,000 free hearing check-ups each year.

For more information on their work see www.hiddenhearing.org or call 028 86757294.