PRESSROOM

PRESSROOM

The Foundation establishes the first “Hearing Aid Bank” in Taiwan

The Foundation establishes the first “Hearing Aid Bank” in Taiwan

2019/10/07

One out of three elders suffers from disabling hearing loss! Over 50% of the general public felt they have hearing problems but never sought medical advice.

High-risk population should watch out for the five risks related to hearing loss: falling, dementia, traffic safety, social risk, and frailty.

The risk of dementia for the persons with severe hearing loss is 5 times that of an average person. The fall risk for the persons with mild hearing loss is three times that of an average person.

PSA Charitable Foundation calls for the hearing test to be included in the elderly physical exam.

The Foundation establishes the first “Hearing Aid Bank” in Taiwan and collaborates with Heping Branch of Taipei City Hospital to expand its free service.

 

(October 7th 2010, Taipei) As we get older, we wear reading glasses to improve our poor vision. Yet, we often neglect to care for our aging ears. Today (the 7th), PSA Charitable Foundation released the results of elderly hearing screening report and questionnaire for the first half of 2019. The results showed that over 40% of the elders of 65 years old and above suffer from disabling hearing loss! Based on this finding, the estimation of the senior population with disabling hearing loss has reached 1.39 million in Taiwan. Furthermore, the screening results also revealed that 20% of the participants who reported to have no prior hearing problems were found to have disabling hearing loss through the hearing screening test.

 

Hearing loss is closely related to dementia, falling, and social barriers. The risk of dementia for the persons with severe hearing loss is 5 times that of an average person and the falling risk for the persons with mild hearing loss is 3 times. Otolaryngologists have pointed out that wearing hearing aids can effectively reduce these risks. Therefore, hearing screening becomes increasingly important. On the Double Ninth Festival, The PSA Charitable Foundation urged elders to conduct hearing test regularly. Additionally, the foundation has appealed to the government to include hearing test in the free physical exams for the elders, as it will likely increase the rate of people seeking medical support and decrease the risks that are caused by hearing loss.

 

At the meantime, PSA Charitable Foundation announced a collaboration with Taipei City Hospital, Heping Branch to expand the service of the Foundation’s “Hearing Aid Bank”, the first establishment for free hearing aid service in Taiwan. With the professional guidance and consultation of certified audiologists, the Hearing Aid Bank provides free loans and tryouts of hearing aids for the general public to dispel the doubts about the devices.

One out of three elders in Taiwan suffers from disabling hearing loss. It is estimated that the population with disabling hearing loss reaches 1.39 million!

20% of the people with hearing loss claimed that they do not have hearing problems. More than 50% of those who felt they have hearing problems have never sought out medical treatments.

PSA Charitable Foundation has conducted hearing screenings for 1,358 people in the first half of 2019. The results showed that the prevalence of elderly disabling hearing loss[i] has reached 40.5% among the elders of 65 years old and above. The number is much higher than the 33% announced by the World Health Organization. It is estimated that there is about 1.39 million elderly people, an equivalence to one third of the senior population, who suffer from disabling hearing loss in Taiwan.

An additional questionnaire has been conducted for the 1,358 people who participated in the hearing screening. The results indicated that 54.5% of the participants had self-diagnosed hearing problems but had never seen a doctor. Among those who believed that they do not have hearing problems, 19.9% were tested for disabling hearing loss. The findings demonstrated that the patients themselves and their families could easily overlook the problems of hearing loss.

PSA Charitable Foundation provides elderly hearing care and hearing test service at more than a hundred community locations annually, and constantly reminds the general public to check the hearing condition regularly for the elders and themselves. The Foundation collaborates with the Heping Branch of Taipei City Hospital and the village chief of Tangbu Village, Wanhua District to advocate for the health education of hearing screenings for the community elders at the Double Ninth Festival. During the event, Mr. Lin Long Sen, the CEO of PSA Charitable Foundation, urged the government to include hearing screening in the free physical examination, elderly physical exam, and integrated screening item. Early interventional treatment is crucial in lowering the medical healthcare and social costs caused by hearing loss.

Do you have tinnitus and often are told that you turn the TV volume up too much? These are the warning signs of hearing loss! Aging, long-term exposure to the high-noise environment, smoking, and the three hypers are all risk factors of hearing loss.

On top of the regular hearing test, there are warning signs of hearing loss that people should watch out. If you have to constantly ask others to repeat themselves, turn the TV volume too loudly, experience suddenly worsened hearing or continual tinnitus, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Director of the division of otolaryngology of Taipei City Hospital Heping Branch, Dr. Yang Tsung Han explained that except for presbycusis, hearing loss have many causes, including frequent exposure to high-noise environment (KTV, factories, airports, and etc.), smoking, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes mellitus (the three hypers patient), disease infections, and ototoxic drugs. People who have conditions listed above are considered high-risk groups of hearing loss and should be aware of their hearing health at all time.

Doctors also remind people to avoid using headphones on the MRT or while riding motorcycles. When the ambient noise is loud, the proper volume control of headphones could be easily overlooked. In addition, it is suggested not to clean your own ears with any kind of tools to avoid external force trauma of auditory meatus and eardrum.

Five risks of hearing loss: Falling, dementia, traffic safety, social risk, and frailty

Otolaryngologists suggest that early treatment and wearing of hearing aids are two ways to effectively reduce the risks related to hearing loss.

Hearing loss is closely related to falling, dementia, and social difficulties. Hearing loss could decrease a person’s environmental awareness, increase the burden to the brain’s cognition function, and affect the equilibrium and walking stability and thus increase the risks of falling. The risk of falling for the persons with mild hearing loss is 3 times that of an average person. Every 10 dBHL increase in the hearing loss will raise the risk of falling by 1.4 times! Hearing loss will lessen the stimulation to the brain and cause atrophy of the auditory nerves that might result in the decline of speech recognition ability and degeneration of cognitive function. It also affects a person’s interpersonal communication and their willingness to participate in social activities. As a consequence, people with hearing loss might lose their confidence and withdraw from normal social life. Such conditions could induce depression, dementia, or even frailty. The risk of dementia for people with mild, moderate, and severe hearing loss is 2, 3, and 5 times respectively that of an average person. Hearing loss also affects one’s auditory localization. Without it, a person will not be able to detect traffic flow accurately and thus their risks of traffic accidents increase greatly.

Director Yang Tsung Han pointed out that conductive and sensorineural hearing losses can be treated with surgery, hearing aids, and cochlear implant, and the conditions of presbycusis could be improved by wearing hearing aids. These means can greatly reduce the risks of falling and dementia. Therefore, he suggests seeing a doctor as soon as possible once the symptoms of hearing loss occurred. According to the research conducted by the Hearing Loss Association of America, people who suffered from hearing degeneration waited for seven years in average before wearing hearing aids. The reasons might be that the effectiveness of the hearing aids they chose did not meet their expectation, that they were not wearing the devices correctly, or that they were not adapted to the devices at all. Doctors suggest that people with hearing loss should seek professional treatment and guidance as soon as possible in order to wear and adapt to the hearing devices correctly from the beginning.

PSA Charitable Foundation has established the first Hearing Aid Bank in Taiwan and collaborates with Taipei City Hospital Heping Branch to expand its free service. Professional hearing care personnel training program and elderly hearing care service at community locations are now open for application.

To enhance the general public’s hearing health knowledge and to care for the elders in our society, PSA Charitable Foundation has held more than 458 free sessions of “Elderly Hearing Care Service at Community Locations” in the past four years these sessions that has served more than ten thousand elders. Through the hearing test and health education conducted by professional audiologists, The Foundation continues to help elders to monitor their hearing conditions.

To reduce the general public’s doubts about choosing and wearing the hearing aids, the Foundation has collaborated with Taipei City West District Assistive Technology Center to initiate the “Hearing Aid Bank” service since 2017. It is the first charitable establishment in Taiwan to provide free loan of hearing aids and other related service for the general public. The audiologists provide on-site professional consultation and convey the concepts and importance of aural rehabilitation to assist the elders to accept and adapt to the hearing devices at the earliest. People with hearing loss are welcome to loan and try out the free hearing devices at the Bank before purchasing. Until the end of this August, Hearing Aid Bank has served more than three hundreds people and spent nearly two hours to assist each of them in average. Huang Yung Yao, the director of hearing center at PSA Charitable Foundation announced that “in order to increase the service capacity of the Hearing Aid Bank, the Foundation is currently collaborating with Heping Hospital. It is expected that the general public could benefit from the collaboration and have a friendly channel to better understand the hearing aids before purchasing and to consult after wearing. At the meantime, the Foundation plans to expand the service of the Hearing Aid Bank nationwide next year and collaborate with more hospitals, schools, and hearing device centers.”

In order to expand the service scope continually, the PSA Charitable Foundation offers a training program for the elderly hearing care professionals at the community locations. It is estimated that a hundred professional lecturers will complete their trainings this year and start to provide service. Please check the PSA Charitable Foundation official website for the application of Elderly Hearing Care Service at Community Locations http://www.psa.org.tw.

 

[i] Definition of adult disabling hearing loss: the average hearing threshold of the better ear is over 40dBHL. Standard for hearing impairment certification: binaural capability >50% (the average hearing threshold of both ears is over 58dBHL)