Our hearing is one of our most important faculties, the loss of which can lead to us becoming isolated and lonely. DeafHear, a charitable organisation set up in 1964, understands this issue. The organisation, who established a local office here in Letterkenny back in 2001, provides support services to deaf and hard of hearing individuals, while also assisting the professionals who work with this demographic. DeafHear plays an integral part in Minister for Health Leo Varadkar's recently launched 'Mind your Hearing' campaign, which aims to raise awareness of acquired hearing loss, encouraging people to get their hearing tested early. As with all health issues, early detection is crucial.

One in every six people in Ireland has some level of hearing loss. As people get older their hearing deteriorates, so that by the age of 60, one person in three will have a "significant disabling hearing loss." Speaking at the launch of his campaign, the Minister pointed out that, "less than one third of adults with hearing loss have a hearing aid. Loss of hearing can be gradual, sometimes barely noticeable.  People tend to wait around ten years to address their hearing loss, and lose out on the benefits of early treatment. That’s why the ‘Mind Your Hearing’ campaign is so welcome."

According to Professor Sabina Brennan, Director of NEIL Memory Research Unit in Trinity College, "hearing loss leads to loneliness and social isolation which are actually as bad for your health as smoking and obesity. However by addressing your hearing loss and staying socially engaged you can maintain your brain function and may even reduce your risk for developing dementia."

Brendan Lennon, Project Manager of the Mind Your Hearing Campaign said that, "on average people wait ten years from the time they realise they have a hearing loss until they do something about it. Two thirds of people in Ireland who need hearing aids do not have them.  As well as greatly affecting their ability to function in their daily lives, it also has a significant impact on their health and wellbeing."

The Minister officially launched a video, illustrating the personal experiences of a number of people dealing with hearing loss together with a brochure giving information and advice to people on how to check their hearing, which can be found on the Mind Your Hearing website.  

As the old saying goes, "your health is your wealth" and people often need help, advice and encouragement to look after themselves. DeafHear's repertoire includes family support services, aids and appliances technology for people who are deaf  and hard of hearing,such as special smoke alarms, information and advice on aspects of deafness and hearing loss, bolstered by a  mental health service.  They currently run groups for vulnerable deaf adults, hard of hearing adults and people with tinnitus.  They can be contacted at Spencer House, High Road, Letterkenny, Co Donegal. DeafHear's Letterkenny phone number is 074-9188252, and their email is letterkenny@deafhear.ie.

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