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Till Deaf Do Us Part

Friday, 17 July 2009

Relationships throughout the UK are failing because of unmanaged hearing loss, according to a survey commissioned by Specsavers hearing centres.

The survey, of 1,500 people over 55-year-olds with hearing loss, has revealed that:

  • § Almost one in two (44% of people) said that relationships with their partner, friends or family had suffered because they can't hear properly
  • § A third (34%) have lost touch with friends, and in some cases seen marriages fall apart, as a direct result of the breakdown in communication caused by hearing loss
  • § Two thirds (69%) said their hearing loss seriously hinders their ability to take part in everyday conversations with friends and family, causing 52% of those surveyed to feel left out and ignored in social situations.
  • § Women (72%) were found to be more affected by social exclusion because of hearing loss than men
  • § Almost half (49%) said that losing their hearing is the worst thing about growing old

Actress and lifelong hearing loss sufferer Stephanie Beacham, who has been completely deaf in one ear since birth, says: 'This research doesn't surprise me in the slightest. Having a hearing issue is extremely frustrating and socially isolating. It is so boring having a conversation that neither person can engage in properly, shouting louder and straining to hear is not good. 

'I can see exactly why relationships breakdown and it is so sad to think that a loving couple can go through life happily together and then, because of hearing loss, the effect on their relationship can be unnecessarily devastating.'

Stephanie continues: 'No one should suffer in silence. Whether it is you, a partner or friend with hearing loss, the main obstacle we have to overcome is the stigma. Like many other conditions, hearing problems can be managed in most cases with hearing aids, however, the first crucial step is to have a hearing test.'

The survey, commissioned by Specsavers hearing centres, was conducted online by onepoll.com and face-to-face at the Pensioners Parliament, held by the National Pensioners Convention in Blackpool last month. When questioned, respondents said that the social exclusion they experienced as a result of their hearing loss left them feeling depressed, anti-social and with no self worth.

The survey also revealed that more than half (53%) agreed that an improvement in their hearing would make relationships between them and their family and friends more harmonious.

Specsavers hearing aid audiologist, Colin Campbell, says: 'As we get older, our hearing can naturally deteriorate. Very often, this kind of hearing loss can be managed with hearing aids, which can transform the lives of people who have lived with their hearing loss for years.

'Let's not forgot younger people - increasing numbers of them are suffering from hearing loss as a consequence of modern day life, such as listening to loud music, living in noisy environments and generally exposing their ears to sounds levels that they were not designed to hear.'

Stephanie is working with Specsavers hearing centres to find a deaf or hard of hearing hero in the first Sound Barrier Star awards. Recognising achievement or courage in the deaf or hard of hearing, Specsavers will donate £5 for every nomination received to Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.

Specsavers offers free hearing tests at more than 400 stores across the UK. To book an appointment or for more information please call 0808 143 1143 or visit www.specsavers.co.uk/hearing.


- Ends -


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Hearing centres notes to editors                                           Updated April 2009

  • Hearcare was established in 1998 by qualified hearing aid dispenser Peter Ince and healthcare retail specialist Rob Warner
  • Hearcare was acquired by the Specsavers Group in October 2002 and rebranded under the Specsavers banner in 2003.
  • The acquisition of Hearcare fitted with Specsavers' strategy of expanding its successful business model into new countries and health care sectors
  • Specsavers now provides hearing care from more than400 locations in the UK,
  • Specsavers is now the largest retail dispenser of digital hearing aids in the UK and has a market share of 24%
  • Specsavers hearing centres operate as a joint venture partnership, ensuring hearing aid dispensers are genuine stakeholders, involved with every aspect of the business
  • Specsavers was founded by Doug and Dame Mary Perkins in 1984 and is now the largest privately owned opticians in the world. The couple still run the company, along with their three children. Their eldest son John is joint managing director
  • Specsavers has more than 1,340 stores throughout the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Spain and Australia
  • Specsavers employs more than 26,000 people
  • Annual turnover for the Specsavers Group is forecast to reach a record £1.4 billion in 2009. Annual turnover for Specsavers hearing centres in 2008 was £25 million
  • Specsavers supports numerous optical and hearing charities, including Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and Sound Seekers
  • Specsavers was voted Britain's most trusted brand of opticians for the eighth year running by Reader's Digest in 2009