Hearing tech use predicted to increase amongst older people

Technology has been a “lifeline” for those over 70 years old while isolating due to COVID-19, and this boost in usage could pave the way for increased use of integrated hearing technologies

old and young woman
The British Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (BIHIMA) has predicted a greater use of integrated hearing technology, particularly in older people, as a result of lifestyle changes brought about by the pandemic.

Technology has provided a “lifeline” for many individuals over the age of 70, who have been encouraged to isolate throughout the past few months due to the risks of coronavirus (COVID-19).

With more than 70% of people over 70 experiencing hearing loss, BIHIMA noted that the increased use of smart technologies and devices is: “Opening up the use of integrated smart technology: technology which can transform the life of someone who needs a hearing instrument.”

The organisation observed that many older people who may not previously have chosen to use technology in their day-to-day lives have embraced it. This ranges from using iPads and smart phones to keep in touch with loved ones, to carrying out online shopping or contacting health professionals.

Available hearing technology can enable wearers to integrate their hearing aids into their devices, such as using their smart phones to manage them. However, BIHIMA highlighted that there are those “especially those who are older and less digitally literate,” who have “shied away” from using it.

Mike Padgham, chair of the care provider organisation, The Independent Care Group, shared that explaining smart technologies to people who are struggling to hear and are not used to the technology is a challenge for many care homes – particularly as they implement COVID-safe ways to communicate with families.

However, he noted: “There are very few positives to come out of coronavirus, but one of them may well be that people have become more accustomed to using technology and less afraid of it, which bodes well for them making greater use of it in the future.”

BIHIMA chairman, Paul Surridge, recognised the challenges that many older and vulnerable people have faced this year due to COVID-19, with a high percentage of those isolating also affected by hearing loss. He commented: “BIHIMA’s members continue to innovate and advance hearing instruments to address such challenges and improve ease of use for smart technology integration.”