SoundSpace Online

Deafness in Adulthood

Deafness in adulthood can occur over time, with deteriorating hearing, or suddenly, with trauma or infection. However if it occurs, it can be devastating, altering a person’s perception of themselves. Deafness in adulthood is linked with isolation, depression and dementia and higher levels of unemployment (link). As one adult commented :

“you lose total self-esteem, you don’t want to mix, anything like that because that’s what deafness does to you...”

Please click here to download "The Real Cost of Hearing Loss" report on adult hearing loss. 

Ludwig van Beethoven, in a letter to his brother commented :

“For me there can be no relaxation in human society; no refined conversations, no mutual confidences. I must live quite alone and may creep into society only as often as sheer necessity demands.”

However, hearing loss in adulthood is common: 41% of people over 50 are likely to have a hearing loss, and over 70 this figure is 70%. With people increasingly working into later life, and needing good communication skills, the issue is growing.

Adult hearing loss can make employment challenging.... as one hearing aid user said....” The HR manager would simply say :

“I don’t know if you are up to this job anymore. You can’t hear what people say to you, how can you do your job? That was quite frightening....”

Adults are often reluctant to seek help for hearing loss; on average it takes ten years to seek help, and many are not then referred for audiological assessment. Today we have good technological help for adults with digital aids, cochlear implants, and bone conducting hearing implants. However, often this help is not sought, or used.

For more information on hearing loss, please download this GP flyer created by The Ear Foundation together with Age UK, Action on Hearing Loss, Hearing Link and NHS Rushcliffe Clinical Commissioning Group. For more information on hearing loss in adulthood, please also visit SoundSpace Online - Hearing Loss in adulthood (in progress).