How do I know if I need a hearing aid?

By HBF

4 minutes

22 September 2021

A senior man and woman laughing together in a cafe

Is it time for a hearing check? An audiologist from Audika explains some signs of hearing loss to look out for, and how a hearing aid could help.

Do you find it difficult to follow conversations when there's background noise, like at a restaurant? Do you often need to ask people to repeat themselves?

As we age, it’s common for our hearing to change.1

As many as one in two people over the age of 60 experiences hearing loss1 – and this increases to nearly three in four people over the age of 70.2

Struggling to hear properly can be frustrating, and it can make you feel lonely and isolated from the people around you.3

So does that mean you need a hearing aid? When should you have a hearing check?

We talked to Rachel Oliver, an audiologist at Audika, for some expert advice.

Signs of hearing loss

“Age-related hearing loss is usually gradual, and you may not even realise your hearing has changed,” Oliver says.

“Often, it’s noticed by a family member or someone close to you before you’re aware of it.”

A few signs of hearing loss Oliver says you should pay attention to include:4

  • Having trouble hearing people speak in noisy places, like at a restaurant or a shopping centre
  • Asking people to repeat themselves, or hearing words incorrectly
  • Struggling to understand people unless they are facing you
  • Needing to turn up the volume on the TV or radio
  • Missing alerts like your phone ringing, the doorbell or alarms
  • Feeling exhausted or frustrated after socialising

“Many people dismiss these struggles as just something they have to put up with, and often wait years before seeking help,” she says.

“But if you’re experiencing any of these signs, it’s a good idea to have a hearing check to find out more about your hearing and what could help you. Earlier intervention is always better.”

What happens in a hearing test?

You may like to talk to your GP first, but you don’t need a doctor’s referral to book an assessment at a hearing clinic.

“It’s natural to feel a bit nervous, but remember you’re taking a really positive step forward to healthier living,” Oliver says.

“As better communication is the aim, we recommend bringing a family member or friend with you to your appointment to gain a shared understanding.

“There can be a lot of information to take in, so having that support can be helpful.”

Types of screenings and assessments can vary. For example, Audika has three types of tests in their clinics – an AMTAS computer test using specific hearing software (15 minutes), a screening test with a clinician (30 minutes) and a full test with a clinician (60 minutes).

Oliver says a full test appointment might include:

  • A chat with a clinician. To begin with, your clinician will likely ask you some questions about your hearing concerns, medical history and lifestyle.
  • A physical ear examination. Your clinician will take a quick, painless look at your ears to check for physical issues.
  • A series of hearing tests. This can include things like listening to tones at different pitches and volumes, and listening to speech and repeating back what you hear.
  • Your results and recommendations. If hearing loss is detected, your clinician will discuss your best options to help. They may also offer a demonstration of the recommended options.

Related: HBF extras cover for hearing aids

What is a hearing aid?

A hearing aid is a small device that usually sits discreetly in the ear or behind the ear. They are designed to amplify sounds you need to hear in the environment around you.5

There are several different types of hearing aids, and your clinician can discuss with you the best options for your situation.

“Hearing aid technology has advanced greatly in recent years, with many options to suit your lifestyle needs, including hearing in environments with background noise,” Oliver says.

This means a more comfortable listening experience.

“Most hearing aids even have wireless connectivity, so with the right accessory you have the option to connect to a range of compatible devices to listen to TV, take phone calls or enjoy music, making everyday tasks easier.”

How can a hearing aid help?

If you’re experiencing changes in hearing, a hearing aid may help improve your quality of life, Oliver says.

“Studies show hearing loss can contribute to loneliness and social isolation,” she says.3

“For many people, hearing aids can allow them to participate more confidently in activities, helping to improve mental wellbeing and a feeling of connection.”

Oliver says a few benefits of hearing more clearly can include:

  • Better communication
  • Stronger social connection
  • More enjoyment of the things you love
  • Improved mental wellbeing
  • Increased confidence

The cost of hearing aids

Hearing aids are not covered by Medicare. However, the Australian Government's Hearing Services Program offers some eligible groups (such as pensioners, veterans and Indigenous Australians) subsidised hearing assessments and hearing aids. Conditions apply under this program.6

Private health insurance may also cover hearing aids, helping you manage the costs.

How can HBF help?

HBF extras insurance can include cover for hearing aids – explore our cover options now to find one that could suit your needs.

If you’re already an HBF member, you can check your cover details by logging on to myHBF or calling us on 133 423.

If you’re wondering if a hearing aid could help you, it's worth finding out more. Book in a hearing check now and you could be on your way to better hearing and a more connected life. 

Get 10% off hearing devices at Audika

An exclusive offer for HBF members – save on any hearing device from an Audika hearing clinic. (For a limited time only. Conditions apply.)*

Find out more

Sources:

  1. 1Based on data from the Hearing Care Industry Association, Hearing for Life – The value of hearing services for vulnerable Australians (2020), as well as data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics
  2. 2Hearing Care Industry Association – The social and economic cost of hearing loss in Australia (2017)
  3. 3Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery journal – Hearing Loss, Loneliness, and Social Isolation: A Systematic Review (2020)
  4. 4healthdirect – Hearing loss (2020)
  5. 5healthdirect – Hearing aids (2020)
  6. 6Australian Government Department of Health – Hearing Services Program

Disclaimer:

This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.

*10% discount is off the normal Audika selling price of the hearing device after any applicable payments/subsidies made by or under a government program have been deducted and prior to eligible benefits from HBF being paid. Discount not available in conjunction with any other discount offers. Excludes any spend on accessories (such as re-charging units and remote controls), assisted listening devices, batteries and/or maintenance, consumables, spare parts, Ultimate Care package and any other service change. Present your HBF member card to redeem offer. Offer available until 31 December 2021.