On 6th March 2018 – in conjunction with the World Hearing Day – policymakers and European stakeholders met in the European Parliament to raise awareness on the social and economic impact of hearing loss in our society. The Roundtable aimed at spurring debate on the importance to foster access to hearing devises and rehabilitation services in order to prevent the significant social and economic costs of untreated hearing loss.
The event, titled “Hear The Future … and prepare for it”, was organized by four members of the Coalition on Hearing Loss and Disabilities (namely the European Association of Hearing Aid Professionals, AGE Platform, European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association, European Federation of Hard of Hearing People) and co-hosted by MEP Renate Sommer (Germany, EPP) and MEP Heinz Becker (Austria, EPP).
Following the welcoming remarks of MEP Renate Sommer, panelists discussed the important link between hearing and cognition as well as dementia risk in older adults. Very interesting researches were presented during the meeting. Bridget Shield, from Brunel University London presented her study on the social and economic costs of untreated hearing loss, also in term of lost productivity and social isolation.
Hélène Amieva, a Neuropsychologist and Epidemiologist working at Inserm in Bordeaux, presented her recently-published a study based on data from 3,777 persons aged 65+ who had been followed over a 25-year period. Her study shows that persons with untreated hearing loss are at a higher risk of being dependent on help from other persons in their daily life and that those using hearing aids have better chances of staying independent.
Shelly Chadha (WHO) presented the WHO 2018 campaign “Hear the future” aiming at drawing attention to preventive strategies to stem the rise and outline steps to ensure access to the necessary rehabilitation services and communication tools and products for people with hearing loss.
In line with the Manifesto on Hearing Loss and Disabilities, Anne-Sophie Parent (AGE Platform) stressed the need to foster awareness and tackle ageism. EU countries must remove age limits in disability support measures that prevent older persons with disabilities (such as hearing impairment) from enjoying their rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
The event marked a key moment to raise awareness of hearing loss impact and look at effective ways of facilitating access to innovative technologies. Now it is time for the European Parliament to keep up the debate on the significant costs of untreated hearing loss and how to act for better healthcare.
More information on the event are available here.