Physician Partner Resources
About Canada’s Growing Hearing Problem
The numbers on hearing loss in Canada are startling. Statistics Canada says that, in a period of ten years (2002-2012), the number of people with hearing difficulty tripled to more than 3 million. Just in Ontario, 4.1 million adults age 65 and over are projected to have hearing loss by 2036. There’s a disturbing trend developing as the population of Canada ages.
Untreated hearing loss affects live in many ways. Not being able to understand speech clearly, especially when there’s background noise around, is immensely frustrating. People tired or embarrassed about not being able to hear well can end up withdrawing from others, which can lead to social isolation and depression. Hearing has been connected to lower cognitive function among older adults, and can lead to poor relationships with family and the caregivers many older Canadians rely on.
Still, even with all that we know about the effects of untreated hearing loss, only 1 out of every 6 people with hearing loss is wearing a hearing aid. This is frustrating for the hearing health community, because there is a good deal of evidence showing that hearing aids are a great way to improve quality of life.
As a primary care physician, you can do a lot to turn life around for people with hearing loss. It has been found that, when doctors inform hearing-impaired patients about the excellent experiences people have with hearing aids and other hearing devices, people are more likely to explore the possibility of a device for themselves.
This is incredibly important, especially in the case of sensorineural hearing loss (SHL: the loss of cochlear hair cells), which affects some 90-95% of people with hearing loss. Devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants are the only options for dealing with SHL.
The best thing you can do to help hearing impaired patients is to help them develop a positive attitude toward hearing devices, and then refer them to an OAPAC audiologist, such as the professionals on the staff of our clinic for testing. Be assured that they will receive personalized, individual care, focused on each patient’s unique needs.