Are you missing out

More than three million Australians are living with hearing loss. The good news is, they don’t have to.

The story starts with a young couple, Jack and Xanthe, living in the 80s. They bond over mixed tapes and Harbour Bridge glimpses, then share an awkward first kiss.

Fast forward 40 years to when they have negotiated children, in-laws, Facebook and on-line playlists. The question is, are they content or heading for the rocks?

Does Love Last Forever? is an engaging, short film shown as a preview to millions of cinema-goers. Few would guess it was a hearing test in disguise.

In a clever ploy to put hearing on the list of hot topics, global leader in implantable hearing solutions, Cochlear Limited, created a film in which the ending depends on how much you can hear.

Camera angles that challenge people reliant on lip-reading, and ambient sounds that mimic real-world situations like noisy restaurants, mean people with hearing loss watching the film may see a story of gradual disconnection between the couple. The true story is quite different.

Studies show that of the 3.5 million Australians living with hearing loss, nearly 85% have not sought help by using hearing aids or cochlear implants.

“Worldwide research clearly identifies a linkage between significant unaddressed hearing loss and cognitive difficulties in the elderly,” The HEARing Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) Chief Executive Officer, Professor Robert Cowan, said.

“We don’t know if there is a direct causal link to dementia but increasing levels of hearing loss lead to greater cognitive load on the brain.

“It is not just about the ability to detect sound, but also about the ability of the individual to process the acoustic information.

“The earlier that an individual can receive appropriate hearing rehabilitation, the better the outcome in restoring communication.”

Cochlear Limited’s National Clinical Manager, Julie Decker, said it was better to seek help early, before your brain adjusted to not hearing properly.

The first step to address hearing loss is to ask to your general practitioner for a referral to an audiological group.

“If you ask people who have hearing loss if they would have got help earlier, most will say yes,” Ms Decker said.

Although cost is often perceived as a barrier to cochlear implants, Ms Decker says assistance is available through private health funds and some public funding also is available.

You can check your eligibility at the Australian Government Department of Health Office of Hearing Services by calling 1800 500 726.

Watch the film at Does Love Last Forever? and take the hearing test to check how much of life you may be missing.