‘Any embarrassment is in your head!’: How hearing aids boost your health and happiness

There is still a stigma around hearing tests and hearing loss – even though excellent help is now at hand. It could just change your life

Michael Mosley has spent decades trying to help us all to eat healthily, sleep better and do more exercise. Now the broadcaster, author and former doctor is turning his attention to our ears, encouraging anyone who has noticed a change in their hearing to take a free test. “Hearing change is completely normal and is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about,” he stresses. He should know: Mosley has been experiencing hearing loss for several years. “At 66, my hearing’s not great,” he tells me over the phone. “I really struggle in social settings such as pubs and restaurants.” I assume he wears hearing aids these days. “I’m not quite ready for a hearing aid yet!” he protests. “My hearing’s not bad enough. I’ll go back in a year or so for another test.”

This might make Mosley an odd choice to front Specsavers’ hearing-test campaign – but his attitude reflects a society-wide reluctance to wearing hearing aids. And at least he has actually taken a hearing test. A much-cited 2007 study showed that, on average, it takes people 10 years from noticing hearing loss to getting it checked out. Ten years later, another study found the situation has only slightly improved: that figure is now 8.9 years. And Specsavers’ survey of 2,000 UK adults in September found that one in three Britons had noticed changes in their hearing over the past decade but more than half (57%) had taken no action. Reasons given include embarrassment, not feeling it was needed, being too busy and because no one else they know gets their hearing checked. My boyfriend is one of them – he has been struggling to follow conversations in noisy pubs for the past few years, but feels the problem isn’t bad enough to do anything about it.

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Category: Dementia | Mental Health