NZ Study Finds Preventing And Treating Hearing Loss Reduces Prevalence Of Loneliness

NZ Study Finds Preventing And Treating Hearing Loss Reduces Prevalence Of Loneliness

The high prevalence of prolonged loneliness is a problem
both within New Zealand and around the world. Loneliness New
Zealand is committed to not only highlighting this problem
but also discovering solutions for those experiencing

To pursue this goal, data was mined from
the Loneliness NZ Post-Lockdown Survey 2020, which was
administered by Horizon Research in July 2020. This analysis
led to the discovery that for some demographic groups in New
Zealand hearing loss has a relatively strong association
with loneliness.

This finding was significant since
both loneliness and hearing loss reduce the wellbeing of
many New Zealanders. In any four-week period, about 657,000
New Zealand adults aged 15+ experience loneliness, most, or
all of the time (1); whilst about 880,000 New Zealanders
have hearing loss (2).

The association between hearing
loss and loneliness opened the possibility that by
preventing and treating hearing loss we could concurrently
reduce the prevalence of loneliness in New Zealand. This
possibility is considered in a new report by the Loneliness
New Zealand Charitable Trust. Written by Dr Spencer Scoular,
the report finds that the prevention and treatment of
hearing loss appears to be an important prevention and
intervention for loneliness in New

“We have discovered a
manageable way of reducing the prevalence of loneliness in
Aotearoa – by preventing and treating hearing loss,”
Scoular explains. “This loneliness prevention and
intervention is particularly applicable to adults aged 75+,
who frequently have hearing

Five of the sixteen
recommendations in the report are:

  1. Increasing
    focus on the prevention of hearing loss, at work, at home,
    and elsewhere.
  2. Clinical testing for hearing loss
    when people report loneliness to a health
  3. Increasing education on the importance
    of seeking treatment for hearing loss when it first
  4. Greater or full funding of treatments for
    hearing loss.
  5. Increasing the affordability and
    accessibility of hearing aids in New Zealand, for example,
    through pooled procurement (like in the UK) and/or
    over-the-counter hearing aids (which is prioritised by
    leading health agencies in the USA).

recommendations of this report are consistent with the
findings and recommendations of the first-ever World
report on hearing, which was published by the World
Health Organisation (WHO) last week. Their report “calls
upon Member States to initiate affirmative action that both
includes, and addresses, the needs of those living with ear
diseases and hearing loss, as well as the populations at
risk of these conditions.”

Preventing and treating
hearing loss provides a potentially important means of
reducing the prevalence of loneliness in New Zealand –
which benefits individuals, their family, whānau,
colleagues, and our

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