More than one in six of us has a hearing condition; these additional barriers to communication are causing distress and may have long-term impacts.

As a Melbourne-based not-for-profit, Soundfair knows that lockdown makes life far more difficult for people with hearing conditions. People with hearing conditions experience social isolation, loneliness and are at higher risk of mental health conditions.

Across Victoria, the current restrictions are having a disproportionately negative impact on people living with a hearing condition. Senior Victorians in aged care are particularly at risk of increased experiences of isolation and a lack of connection, given the current restrictions. Lack of support for good communication practices increase the risk of those experiences jeopardising their mental health.

Soundfair Acting CEO Dr Jessica Vitkovic says: “In 2017, findings from a commission on dementia prevention, intervention and care stated that hearing loss is the single largest modifiable risk factor for dementia. People with hearing loss in aged care are often dependent on their carers for hearing health support, such as access to their hearing aids. With stringent lockdown conditions in place across aged care facilities in Victoria, Soundfair is concerned for for the long-term wellbeing of older adults with hearing loss.”

In a survey conducted by Soundfair during the first lockdown: 

  • 86% of respondents reported limiting their participation in social activities due to their hearing condition 
  • 67% of respondents reported feeling lonely 
  • 72% felt they didn’t belong 
  • 68% felt they sometimes or often felt anxious or depressed 
  • 60% reported not having someone to discuss the impact their hearing condition was having on their social or mental health