We need to mount some very strong public awareness campaigns. Get it out there everywhere, so that families who support seniors and the seniors themselves understand that hearing loss is a major issue and it should not be considered a terrible thing as you age.
There is a stigma. People associate hearing loss with what happens to you when you're a senior, and they don't want to admit that they're getting older. Some of the people we've interviewed in our awareness-building admit that they themselves have a hearing loss. It impacts their daily activities and ability to continue with their work, and they don't want to admit it to their colleagues. They don't want to address it.
This is an issue. Also, because of the gradual hearing loss, people don't really know that over the years they've changed activities to compensate for their hearing loss. They don't realize that they're challenging people around them and that they're losing out and becoming more and more isolated. It's a gradual process, so there are issues around that.
We need to mount a public campaign.
We also find that in the health care system itself, people in hospitals—doctors, nurses, physiotherapists—don't understand that the patient they're working with doesn't understand a thing they're saying. We've had examples of people who were sent to a specialist to be assessed for dementia, and they didn't have a problem with anything else but their hearing. They corrected the hearing, and gradually those people were able to connect and live healthier lives.