I’d like to congratulate both your publication and Gillian Flower (March 2016, Letters p20) for supporting moves to reduce loneliness and isolation in the 50+ age group.
One of the causes of isolation not often mentioned or understood is that of hearing loss. Approximately 11million people in the UK have some lessening of hearing ability. This can see them cut off from their family and friends as communication becomes more and more difficult and frustrating for everyone concerned. The concentration required to try to communicate is extremely tiring. Sadly, recent research has indicated that older people suffering with hearing loss show faster cognitive decline than those with no hearing impairment.
It’s often thought that a hearing aid acts like spectacles and returns the user to their previous level of use – sadly this is not the case. A hearing aid simply acts to make sound louder and that means ‘all’ sound, not just conversation. Each and every background noise is amplified and whilst someone with full hearing will subconsciously filter this out, those with hearing impairment cannot.
It is important that people acknowledge their hearing loss and accept help and support. Learning to lip-read is a great help and there are lip reading groups all over the UK. Details can be found via the Association of Teachers of Lip Reading to Adults (ATLA) website on http://atlalipreading.org.uk/learn-to-lipread/ or by writing to ATLA c/o Hearing LINK, 27-28 The Waterfront, Eastbourne, BN23 5UZ. Life is so much more tolerable when there’s help to hand – people just need to take that first step
Sheila Thomson by email.