Mandatory hearing tests of over-55s? British and Irish hearing aid manufacturers say yes



Sixty percent of audiologists recommend over-55s have annual hearing tests, reveals a recent survey by the British and Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (BIHIMA). The organisation is calling for testing to be mandatory.

Mandatory hearing tests of over-55s? British and Irish hearing aid manufacturers say yes

Why do people in Britain not get their hearing tested enough? This is the puzzling question lying behind BIHIMA's research-endorsed call for mandatory hearing tests for older adults.

The studies come hot on the heels of research by the Danish brand Oticon that shows that one third of Brits admitted to knowing someone who is in denial of their hearing loss.

This latest salvo of data, consumer research conducted by Censuswide across 2000 UK adults in February 2020, shows that the average amount of time since those aged 55+ have had their hearing tested is 9 years, yet this age group perceive they should be getting their hearing tested every 3 years, points out BIHIMA. 

Source: The Lancet ‘Hearing loss prevalence and years lived with disability'

30% of audiologists urge starting hearing tests before we are 55

The Association's own December 2020 canvassing of 70 audiologists across England and Ireland in December 2020 showed that that over 60% of audiologists recommend that people should start having annual hearing tests over the age of 55, and just under 30% of audiologists say annual tests should start even earlier. Almost 75% of audiologists believe there should be state-funded hearing tests for the over-50s.

BIHIMA argues that introduction of hearing care at the same age as dental and optical care could foment a lifetime habit, addressing the hearing loss risk factor a risk factor that can contribute to cognitive decline, falls in older people, and mental health problems, affecting independence, employment security, and social and family life. Loneliness and depression result in many cases from hearing loss.

Systemic change

"Systemic change is required whereby we see it as part of our routine healthcare to go for an annual hearing test. This is especially important in the older population who are more likely to develop hearing loss and suffer from its comorbidities,” said BIHIMA Chairman Paul Surridge.

˝You can get free hearing tests on the NHS, but you need to self-refer through your GP – they aren’t given as standard," BIHIMA points out. "There are high street providers who will test our hearing for free too, but how often do we go?"

Source: BIHIMA