The first New Zealand study into the occurrence of hearing loss and the impact for the hearing health workforce found that the number of New Zealanders aged 70 years and older suffering from hearing loss is expected to double in the next 50 years.
Using recent population projections from Statistics New Zealand and Roy Morgan Survey data, researchers have found that the ageing population trend is going to have a significant impact on the number of people suffering from hearing loss.
According to Dr Daniel Exeter, a senior lecturer in Epidemiology and Statistics at the University of Auckland New Zealand, the most dramatic increase is seen among males aged 70 years and older, where the prevalence of hearing loss is expected to double.
Need for more hearing specialists
The study also found that the population of those 65 years old and over will increase more in rural areas such as Northland, West Coast, and Tasman than in more urban areas.
According to Dr. Exeter, hearing health workforce planners therefore need to consider both the development of additional audiologists and ear nose and throat specialists in these locations.
Government funding of hearing aids
University of Auckland audiologist, Dr Grant Searchfield, points to the fact that the New Zealand government need to get involved in the funding of hearing aids. According to Dr. Searchfield everybody knows the population is ageing and that hearing loss therefore is one of the issues that people need to think about.
“There will also be a growing demand for government funding of hearing aids and the government needs to have a dialogue around this, so they can develop a policy and a plan for the future”, says Dr Searchfield.