To commemorate World Hearing Day tomorrow (3 Mar), four final-year Nanyang Technological University students have launched an online guide for family and friends of the elderly to assist them in identifying age-related hearing loss.
The online guide, titled “Five Minutes for Better Hearing Health”, includes tips on convincing an elderly person to get their hearing checked and a link to a do-it-yourself hearing test using the hearWHO mobile application developed by the World Health Organization.
Co-founder of non-profit campaign Hear Together Mr Justin Yeo said that findings from his team’s research have demonstrated that “accessibility and family influence were major factors in motivating the elderly in going for screenings”.
“Through the guide, we hope to raise awareness of age-related hearing loss and show that family members and the elderly can take five minutes together to identify hearing loss easily,” added Mr Yeo.
As Singapore moves from an ageing population to an aged one, the prevalence of age-related hearing loss is set to rise, he noted, as around 2 in 3 seniors — or 422,000 elderly persons — suffer from hearing loss in Singapore, with the numbers set to double by 2030.
Director M.Sc. Programme (Audiology) at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine Professor William Hal Martin emphasised the crucial role of family intervention in identifying age-related hearing loss among the elderly.
“Caregivers are often the first to recognise that someone is struggling with communication issues. They also have special trust-based relationships with those they care for, so they may have a high degree of influence on the health behaviours of those they care for,” said Professor Martin.
Hear Together’s online guide was made in line with the World Health Organization’s call for greater awareness of hearing loss among the public.
Medical Officer in the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office Dr Warrick Junsuk Kim said that hearing loss affects over 450 million people globally “despite many of the causes that drive it being preventable”.
“It is vital that access to required services and interventions are strengthened, but more than that, awareness be raised on their availability,” he stressed.
Dr Kim said that the hearWHO app — endorsed by Hear Together in the “Five Minutes for Better Hearing Health” online guide — “aids in screening for hearing problems”, particularly for those who “commonly listen to loud music, work in noisy places, or who are over 60 years of age”.
“Advocating for these efforts is a valuable way through which we can get involved in ear and hearing care,” he added.
The hearWHO application employs digit-in-noise technology where users will have to listen and identify numbers amid background noise. The application will provide users with a hearing score, and recommend if they should seek professional medical help.
In addition to releasing the “Five Minutes for Better Hearing Health” online guide, Hear Together will also be organising a Facebook live stream on 3 March from 8pm-9pm on their Facebook page tomorrow (3 Mar).
Senior Audiology Manager at the Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf) Lai Siu Fai will be invited to discuss age-related hearing loss and answer questions from the public.
The Hear Together campaign is supported by the National Youth Council’s Young Changemakers Grant, Central Singapore CDC’s Do Good Grant and the Singapore Association for the Deaf.
Members of the public may download the “Five Minutes for Better Hearing Health” guide here.