Couples with good hearing are happier according to new research[i], supporting the age-old notion that listening is the secret to a successful relationship.
In a Boots hearingcare study of 5,032 British adults who have been treated for hearing loss, one in five say they understand their partner better as a result, 18% claim they talk with their partner more often and 9% feel they argue less. Overall, more than a third (36%) believe that addressing their hearing loss has significantly improved their relationship with their partner – findings that have implications for millions of couples across the UK, particularly as research shows people with hearing loss wait 10 to 15 years on average before taking action[ii].
It’s not just the relationship with the partner that appears to benefit from better hearing, with 36% claiming to be more sociable, almost a third (29%) more confident and 21% more talkative. While 89% say they were aware of their hearing loss, 43% did not realise the impact it was having on their loved ones. For almost half (43%) it was their partner that actually persuaded them to take action and 63% wish they had taken action earlier.
The research findings are released to launch Boots’ ‘Great Big Hearing Test’ campaign, which aims to make hearing tests more accessible, encouraging earlier diagnosis and treatment. The campaign will see Boots hearingcare making FREE, quick and easy to complete hearing tests available online - www.greatbighearingtest.com - and in its high-street stores, as well as providing support and advice to partners, families and friends of people with hearing loss.
Professor Adrian Davis OBE, from the Hearing and Communication Group at the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust, says: “I welcome this research as it shows the everyday benefits of hearing healthcare. Around the country there are the familiar cries of “I’m sure you HAVE got selective hearing” or “I have to repeat everything at least three times before you take any notice! ” which reverberate around households. Many people don’t realise that very often a hearing issue is at the root of these cries for help! People with hearing problems often become isolated and relationships end up in silence, because they adapt to hearing loss over time and don’t realise the impact it is having. This research demonstrates the positive impact of addressing hearing difficulties, how a simple check can be the first step to better hearing and communication with loved ones and an improvement in quality of family relationships.”
Hearing loss is increasing in prevalence, currently affecting nine million people in the UK[iii] including 42% of people over the age of 50 and 71% of people over 70. People often put up with hearing loss for many years before seeking treatment and statistics show that as many as two thirds of people with hearing loss have not taken action to address it[iv]. This means approximately six million people could stand to improve the relationship with their partner.
Boots hearingcare audiologist and customer care manager Karen Shepherd says: “We want to encourage people to recognise hearing loss at an earlier stage and not just ‘put up with’ hearing difficulties. Not only will this help avoid some of the problems associated with untreated hearing loss, including social withdrawal, it will also enable a more positive outcome as the longer you put off action, the harder it is to adjust. In some respects, it’s a case of use it or lose – the less out of practice your hearing nerves are, the easier it is to tune them back in to the hugely complicated signals we process without realising."
It’s not just relationships with partners that better hearing can improve – 30% now enjoy a better relationship with their children and 27% have experienced an improvement in their relationship with their grandchildren and wider circle of friends. In addition, 60% of those below 56 years of age have noticed an improvement in their relationship with their work colleagues, while 44% of this group found that better hearing has improved their performance at work.
The ‘Great Big Hearing Test’ campaign from Boots will:
• Make hearing checks more accessible than ever before, including the launch of an online hearing test (that takes 3 minutes to complete) and the availability of FREE hearing checks (that take 15 minutes to complete) on the high street via over 300 Boots stores
• Engage family members and partners of people with hearing loss to help them address the issue in a positive way
• Communicate the positive impact of better hearing through an education and awareness campaign
• See Boots staff being trained to recognise the signs of hearing loss so they can provide advice and, in some stores, hearing checks using hand-held devices
• Involve Boots working with healthcare professionals to ensure they are up-to-date with the latest information about hearing loss treatment
Nine out of ten people admit they used excuses because of their hearing difficulties before they took action to address it – 55% have told people they were talking too quietly, half have blamed distracting background noise and 38% have accused people of mumbling. In addition, 39% admit they used to bluff their way through conversations.
Relationship psychologist Dr Glenn Wilson says: “Our ability to communicate is central to our happiness and never more so than with our partner and loved ones. Recent research[v] even suggested that good conversation and quality relationships can have a bigger impact on health than exercise and diet. Difficulties with communication can cause conflict in relationships, but also leave sufferers feeling isolated and withdrawn. This study reiterates the positive impact of regular communication within couples and the importance of people feeling their partner is listening.”
Visit www.greatbighearingtest.com for more information.
Issued by: Pegasus Public Relations
On behalf of: Boots Hearingcare
Press enquiries: Emma Begg / Claire Matthews (01903) 821 550
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Notes to editors: Interviews with experts, access to case histories and additional research results available upon request.
About Boots Hearingcare
Boots provide expert hearing care advice and hearing solutions in more than 300 stores nationwide. Boots Hearingcare services include free expert advice, free hearing tests, a wide range of digital hearing aids (with a full money-back satisfaction and price-promise guarantee), a free 'customer for life' aftercare programme and a range of competitively priced ancillary hearing products.
[i] Survey of 5,032 hearing aid wearers, conducted in April 2011 by postal questionnaire
[ii] Research from the Medical Research Council
[iii] Source: http://www.rnid.org.uk/mediacentre/press/2011/trih_launch.ht...
[iv] EHIMA EuroTrak survey, 2009
[v] Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/27/friendshi...
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