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‘I keep away from people’ – combined vision and hearing loss is isolating more and more older Australians

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/moira-dunsmore-295190">Moira Dunsmore</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/annmaree-watharow-1540942">Annmaree Watharow</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-kecman-429210">Emily Kecman</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Our <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ageing-and-health">ageing population</a> brings a growing crisis: people over 65 are at greater risk of dual sensory impairment (also known as “deafblindness” or combined vision and hearing loss).</p> <p>Some 66% of people over 60 have hearing loss and 33% of older Australians have low vision. Estimates suggest more than a quarter of Australians over 80 are <a href="https://www.senseswa.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/a-clear-view---senses-australia.pdf">living with dual sensory impairment</a>.</p> <p>Combined vision and hearing loss <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0264619613490519">describes</a> any degree of sight and hearing loss, so neither sense can compensate for the other. Dual sensory impairment can occur at any point in life but is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annepidem.2012.02.004">increasingly common</a> as people get older.</p> <p>The experience can make older people feel isolated and unable to participate in important conversations, including about their health.</p> <h2>Causes and conditions</h2> <p>Conditions related to hearing and vision impairment often <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-we-lose-our-hearing-and-vision-as-we-age-67930">increase as we age</a> – but many of these changes are subtle.</p> <p>Hearing loss can start <a href="https://www.who.int/teams/noncommunicable-diseases/sensory-functions-disability-and-rehabilitation/highlighting-priorities-for-ear-and-hearing-care">as early as our 50s</a> and often accompany other age-related visual changes, such as <a href="https://www.mdfoundation.com.au/">age-related macular degeneration</a>.</p> <p>Other age-related conditions are frequently prioritised by patients, doctors or carers, such as <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/health-conditions-disability-deaths/chronic-disease/overview">diabetes or heart disease</a>. Vision and hearing changes can be easy to overlook or accept as a normal aspect of ageing. As an older person we interviewed for our <a href="https://hdl.handle.net/2123/29262">research</a> told us</p> <blockquote> <p>I don’t see too good or hear too well. It’s just part of old age.</p> </blockquote> <h2>An invisible disability</h2> <p>Dual sensory impairment has a significant and negative impact in all aspects of a person’s life. It reduces access to information, mobility and orientation, impacts <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/09638280210129162">social activities and communication</a>, making it difficult for older adults to manage.</p> <p>It is underdiagnosed, underrecognised and sometimes misattributed (for example, to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbz043">cognitive impairment or decline</a>). However, there is also growing evidence of links between <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/dad2.12054">dementia and dual sensory loss</a>. If left untreated or without appropriate support, dual sensory impairment diminishes the capacity of older people to live independently, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/dad2.12054">feel happy and be safe</a>.</p> <p>A dearth of specific resources to educate and support older Australians with their dual sensory impairment means when older people do raise the issue, their GP or health professional may not understand its significance or where to refer them. One older person told us:</p> <blockquote> <p>There’s another thing too about the GP, the sort of mentality ‘well what do you expect? You’re 95.’ Hearing and vision loss in old age is not seen as a disability, it’s seen as something else.</p> </blockquote> <h2>Isolated yet more dependent on others</h2> <p>Global trends show a worrying conundrum. Older people with dual sensory impairment become <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/dad2.12054">more socially isolated</a>, which impacts their mental health and wellbeing. At the same time they can become increasingly dependent on other people to help them navigate and manage day-to-day activities with limited sight and hearing.</p> <p>One aspect of this is how effectively they can <a href="https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.25522">comprehend and communicate in a health-care setting</a>. Recent research shows <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/healthcare12080852">doctors and nurses in hospitals</a> aren’t making themselves understood to most of their patients with dual sensory impairment. Good communication in the health context is about more than just “knowing what is going on”, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2227-9032/12/8/852">researchers note</a>. It facilitates:</p> <ul> <li>shorter hospital stays</li> <li>fewer re-admissions</li> <li>reduced emergency room visits</li> <li>better treatment adherence and medical follow up</li> <li>less unnecessary diagnostic testing</li> <li>improved health-care outcomes.</li> </ul> <h2>‘Too hard’</h2> <p>Globally, there is a better understanding of how important it is to <a href="https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240030749">maintain active social lives</a> as people age. But this is difficult for older adults with dual sensory loss. One person told us</p> <blockquote> <p>I don’t particularly want to mix with people. Too hard, because they can’t understand. I can no longer now walk into that room, see nothing, find my seat and not recognise [or hear] people.</p> </blockquote> <p>Again, these experiences increase reliance on family. But caring in this context is tough and largely <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2020.572201">hidden</a>. Family members describe being the “eyes and ears” for their loved one. It’s a 24/7 role which can bring <a href="https://doi.org/10.1159/000507856">frustration, social isolation and depression</a> for carers too. One spouse told us:</p> <blockquote> <p>He doesn’t talk anymore much, because he doesn’t know whether [people are] talking to him, unless they use his name, he’s unaware they’re speaking to him, so he might ignore people and so on. And in the end, I noticed people weren’t even bothering him to talk, so now I refuse to go. Because I don’t think it’s fair.</p> </blockquote> <p>So, what can we do?</p> <p>Dual sensory impairment is a growing problem with potentially devastating impacts.</p> <p>It should be considered a unique and distinct disability in all relevant protections and policies. This includes the right to dedicated diagnosis and support, accessibility provisions and specialised skill development for health and social professionals and carers.</p> <p>We need to develop resources to help people with dual sensory impairment and their families and carers understand the condition, what it means and how everyone can be supported. This could include communication adaptation, such as social haptics (communicating using touch) and specialised support for older adults to <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09649069.2019.1627088">navigate health care</a>.</p> <p>Increasing awareness and understanding of dual sensory impairment will also help those impacted with everyday engagement with the world around them – rather than the isolation many feel now.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/232142/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/moira-dunsmore-295190">Moira Dunsmore</a>, Senior Lecturer, Sydney Nursing School, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/annmaree-watharow-1540942">Annmaree Watharow</a>, Lived Experience Research Fellow, Centre for Disability Research and Policy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-kecman-429210">Emily Kecman</a>, Postdoctoral research fellow, Department of Linguistics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/i-keep-away-from-people-combined-vision-and-hearing-loss-is-isolating-more-and-more-older-australians-232142">original article</a>.</em></p>

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4 things you’re likely doing that are damaging your hearing

<p>Your hearing is a precious gift, so it’s important to take good care of your ears. We’ve got some advice on the things to avoid, and what you can do to protect your hearing.</p> <p><strong>Using cotton tips</strong></p> <p>Though they’re commonly used for the job, cotton tips should never be used to clean out your ears. In fact, no solid object should be put inside your ears. Cotton tips account for around four per cent of all ruptured eardrums.</p> <p>These innocuous-looking objects can also cause bleeding, scratch your ear canal, or trigger an infection. So put them down and step away. Instead, use a commercial ear cleaner, or even just a few drops of mineral oil, baby oil, or glycerine to soften the earwax.</p> <p><strong>Don’t wait and see</strong></p> <p>If your hearing in one or both ears suddenly disappears without cause, you need to go and see your doctor as soon as you can. It could be inflammation, infection, or a decrease in blood supply to the area.</p> <p>If you need treatment, you’ll likely need it immediately to have any hope of restoring your hearing.</p> <p><strong>Using eardrops without advice</strong></p> <p>There are many over-the-counter eardrops available to help with things like swimmer’s ear. But in extreme cases, these products can cause deafness. Before you use anything, including a home remedy, get your doctor to check that you don’t have a ruptured eardrum.</p> <p>Some people may be born that way, or have had surgery as a child, or suffered an injury. If the ingredients in these drops make their way inside your eardrum, it can cause a lot of pain, and permanent deafness.</p> <p><strong>Always protect your ears</strong></p> <p>It’s incredibly important to protect your ears from permanent damage. Tiny hairs inside your ears act as hearing receptors, and these can be broken by extremely loud noises. Once they’re gone, they don’t come back.</p> <p>So things like loud music, fireworks, machinery, and artillery are all risky to be around. The best thing you can do is cover up with earmuffs whenever you’re around these things – especially if it’s on a regular basis. For extra safety, use earplugs as well.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p>

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The dos and don’ts of caring for your hearing aids

<p>Proper care and maintenance of your hearing aids is important. It will ensure you to get the most out of your aids, prevent problems and maintain optimum hearing conditions. Here are some guidelines to help you care for them.</p> <p><strong>DO</strong>: clean your hearing aids regularly with a dry cloth or tissue.</p> <p><strong>DON’T</strong>: get your hearing aids wet. That means no wearing them in the shower or when swimming. If they happen to get wet, dry it off immediately.</p> <p><strong>DO</strong>: put your hearing aids in their case when you’re not using them</p> <p><strong>DON’T</strong>: wear your aids when using aftershave, hairspray, perfume, sunscreen, insect repellent and so on. They contain chemicals that could damage it. Allow time for drying before putting back on hearing aids.</p> <p><strong>DO</strong>: use a moisture protection kit/anti-humidity kit. They help with moisture problems (which can affect performance of hearing aids) and extend life of hearing aids.</p> <p><strong>DO</strong>: keep out of reach of pets and visiting grandkids. Dogs have been known to chew them up and if swallowed by either pet or grandkid, can be very dangerous.</p> <p><strong>DON’T</strong>: expose your device to extreme heats. Don’t leave them in a parked car, near a heater or wear while using a hairdryer. </p> <p><strong>DO</strong>: Store your hearing aid in a safe place that's dry and cool.</p> <p><strong>DON’T</strong>: leave your hearing aids switched on when you’re not using them.</p> <p><strong>DO</strong>: change batteries often so you won’t be stuck with aids that have suddenly run out of power.</p> <p><strong>DON’T</strong>: ever insert anything into the sound outlet as it could damage the receiver. If you can’t clean it properly, ask your hearing professional.</p> <p><strong>DO</strong>: remove any earwax that gets into your hearing aid. It could cause permanent damage.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

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What if there was a hearing aid that understood your listening intentions?

<div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="section"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column">Hearing conversations in noisy environments can be especially hard for people with impaired hearing. Unfortunately, traditional hearing aids adopt a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to processing sounds, regardless of the listening needs of individual users. This may make listening and engaging with others more difficult. Users may also experience a lack of sound clarity and be reluctant to engage in conversations with others.</div> <div class="column"> </div> <div class="column">Hearing aid manufacturer <a href="https://www.oticon.co.nz/hearing-aid-users" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Oticon</a> is taking the next important step on the journey to solve the No.1 challenge for people with hearing loss – hearing speech in noise<sup>2</sup>. With new groundbreaking 4D Sensor technology, <a href="https://www.oticon.co.nz/hearing-aid-users/hearing-aids/products/intent" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Oticon Intent</a> is capable of understanding the user’s listening intentions by recognising what they want and need to listen to, in order to deliver truly personalised support.</div> <div class="column"> <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="section"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> </div> <div class="column"><strong>The Brain And Sound</strong></div> <div class="column"> </div> <div class="column">Our ears gather the sounds around us, but the true hero in sound processing is the brain, as it is constantly working to make sense of sound. Oticon uses their BrainHearing<sup>TM</sup> philosophy to develop technology that provides the brain with access to the full sound environment.</div> <div class="column"> </div> <div class="column">The latest <a href="https://www.oticon.co.nz/hearing-aid-users/hearing-loss/understand-hearing-loss/how-hearing-works" target="_blank" rel="noopener">BrainHearing<sup>TM</sup></a> insights reveal that people’s communication behaviour reflects their listening needs and intentions at a given moment via head and body movements. In conversation, users tend to keep their heads still to engage with a single person or move their heads in a group conversation to engage with different people. When struggling to hear what someone is saying, users are likely to lean in to listen.</div> <div class="column"> </div> <div class="column">The technology in Oticon Intent understands and adapts to the user through sensors that monitor head and body movements, conversation activity and the acoustic environment. Oticon Intent helps users move beyond just hearing and listening, helping them to communicate and fully engage in life.</div> <div class="column"> </div> <div class="column"><strong>Ease Of Communication</strong></div> <div class="column"> </div> <div class="column">In challenging, noisy environments, Oticon Intent makes it possible to:</p> <ul> <li>Move through a crowd with seamless awareness, while orienting to the surrounding sounds.</li> <li>Begin chatting with a group of people, thanks to heightened access to voices and balanced background sounds so they are not intrusive, while still accessible.</li> <li>Start an intimate conversation with one person, easily hearing the speaker’s voice amid the noise all around.</li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-50989" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/03/Oticon_Intent_HA_In_Hand_Hero3_KC_1321_Expires_On_2_8_2029_1280.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p><strong>Engage More In Life</strong></p> <p>“If you have a hearing loss, you can actually protect your brain from cognitive decline by using active hearing aids which enable you to connect with others and let you engage in life to the fullest,” says Thomas Behrens, Vice President of Audiology at Oticon. “You can also enjoy future-proof, next- generation connectivity technology, crafted into the smallest form factor we have designed to date within this category.”</p> <p><strong>Open Up The Digital World</strong></p> <p>Offering easy connection to compatible smart devices through Bluetooth® Low Energy technology, Oticon Intent also enables users to engage in the digital world like never before. It allows a detailed, high-quality sound experience for hands-free calls and delivers direct streaming of music, audio book and much more<sup>3</sup>.</p> <p>With up to 20 hours of battery life, users will never have to worry about running out of battery. When they need a recharge, they’d simply drop the hearing aids into the charger for just 30 minutes for up to 8 hours of battery life<sup>4</sup>.</p> <p>Your hearing matters. Take a step towards better hearing by contacting your nearest <a href="https://www.oticon.co.nz/hearing-aid-users/find-audiologist" target="_blank" rel="noopener">hearing care professional</a>. To explore this revolutionary hearing aid that helps users to engage in life like never before, visit <a href="https://www.oticon.co.nz/oticon-intent" target="_blank" rel="noopener">www.oticon.co.nz/oticon-intent</a></p> <p>For more information and to find your nearest hearing clinic, visit <a href="https://www.oticon.co.nz" target="_blank" rel="noopener">oticon.co.nz</a></p> <p><em>*4D Sensor technology only available in Oticon Intent 1 & 2. [</em><em>2.] Jorgensen, L., & Novak, M. (2020). Factors Influencing Hearing Aid Adoption. Seminars in hearing, 41(1), 6–20. [3.] Hands-free communication is available on select devices. See which hearing aids and devices are compatible here: oticon.co.nz/compatibility. [</em><em>4.] Expected use time for rechargeable battery depends on use pattern, active feature set, hearing loss, sound environment, battery age and use of wireless accessories.</em></p> <p><em>Images: Supplied.</em></p> <p><em>This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with Oticon.</em></p>

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Paul Simon reveals sad health update

<p>At 82 years of age, the great Paul Simon – one half of the iconic duo Simon & Garfunkel – has admitted to facing a new health challenge that could prove devastating to millions of fans worldwide: hearing loss.</p> <p>In a recent revelation, he spoke candidly about how this health issue has affected his performances, yet also how he's adapted in oder to continue pursuing his passion for music.</p> <p>Simon's discussion about his hearing loss comes ahead of the premiere of a two-part docuseries, <em>In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon</em>, set to air on MGM+ starting March 17. It's a timely revelation, shedding light on the personal struggles behind the legendary musician's enduring career.</p> <p>During a panel discussion, Simon disclosed the impact of his hearing loss on his recent stage experiences. While he's regained some comfort in singing and playing instruments, he noted difficulties when certain instruments overshadow his own voice.</p> <p>"If there's a drum or an electric guitar," he revealed, "it's too loud and I can't hear my voice. But when I first lost the hearing, I couldn't get – it threw me off."</p> <p>It's a frustration that resonates deeply with any performer reliant on auditory cues for their craft.</p> <p>Simon's journey with hearing loss began suddenly, with the loss predominantly affecting his left ear. In a previous interview, he described the initial frustration and annoyance at the unexplained condition, hoping it would eventually resolve itself.</p> <p>"Nobody has an explanation, so everything became more difficult," he said in a <em>Times</em> interview in May 2023. "My reaction to that was frustration and annoyance; not quite anger yet, because I thought it would pass, it would repair itself."</p> <p>Despite the challenges, he's found solace and creative expression through his daily guitar playing, using it as both a creative outlet and a source of comfort during trying times.</p> <p>Reflecting on his musical journey alongside Art Garfunkel, Simon highlighted the enduring impact of their collaboration. From their humble beginnings as schoolmates in New York to becoming one of the best-selling music acts of the 1960s and 1970s, Simon & Garfunkel's legacy is undeniable. Their timeless hits, including "The Sound of Silence," "Mrs Robinson," and "Bridge Over Troubled Water," continue to resonate with audiences worldwide.</p> <p>Despite occasional tensions and artistic differences that led to their split in 1970, Simon & Garfunkel's partnership endured, marked by intermittent reunions for select performances. Their ability to transcend personal conflicts in the pursuit of their shared musical vision speaks volumes about their dedication to their craft and the enduring power of their bond.</p> <p>While Simon's journey may have taken an unexpected turn, his musical legacy continues to shine brightly, resonating with generations past, present and future.</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

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"Do you hear it?": Worldwide hum global mystery baffles scientists

<p>A perplexing phenomenon known as "The Worldwide Hum" has been capturing the attention of scientists and citizens alike, as an unusual low-frequency noise continues to puzzle experts.</p> <p>This mysterious hum, first recorded in 2012, has been reported by thousands of people worldwide, sparking investigations, online discussions and even <a href="https://www.thehum.info/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the creation of an interactive map</a> documenting instances of the enigmatic sound. As researchers strive to unravel the mystery, individuals share their experiences, raising questions about its origin and effects.</p> <p>Described as a low rumbling or droning sound, "the hum" is often likened to the idling of a car or truck engine. What makes this phenomenon particularly intriguing is that it is not universally heard, with reports of the hum being exclusive to certain individuals.</p> <p>Some claim it is more pronounced at night than during the day, and louder indoors than outdoors. One Reddit user even compared it to the low-frequency vibrations felt when a passenger jet flies overhead.</p> <p>Since its first documentation, more than 6,500 instances of the hum have been reported globally, with new cases continually emerging. The interactive user-generated World Hum Map and Database Project <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">captures the experiences of those who have encountered the sound, providing a comprehensive overview of its widespread occurrence. In some regions, authorities such as the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) have conducted investigations, as was the case in the NSW Waverley Council ten years ago. Despite these efforts, the source of the hum remains elusive.</span></p> <p>Individuals affected by the mysterious noise often find solace in online communities, where they share their experiences and discuss possible explanations. Some describe feeling as though they are "going insane", and say that the psychological impact of the persistent hum is actually very severe.</p> <p>Facebook support groups have become a platform for individuals to connect, share anecdotes and speculate about the origin of the sound. Theories range from the mundane – such as the use of headphones causing collective tinnitus – to more complex environmental factors.</p> <p>While tinnitus, a symptom of auditory system issues, has been proposed as a potential explanation, it does not account for the collective experience of the hum. Various theories, including industrial plants, ocean waves, lightning strikes and the proliferation of mobile phone towers, have been suggested over the years. However, none of these explanations have gained widespread acceptance or provided a conclusive answer.</p> <p>Dr Glen MacPherson, who initiated the World Hum Map and Database Project, experienced the hum firsthand on Canada's Sunshine Coast. Having debunked the idea of "hum hotspots", Dr MacPherson theorises that the hum may be a subjective phenomenon, akin to tinnitus, originating from within the individual rather than an external source. His 11 years of research highlight the complexity of the mystery, challenging initial assumptions and pointing towards the need for further investigation.</p> <p>As "The Worldwide Hum" continues to captivate the curiosity of scientists and citizens worldwide, the quest for understanding remains elusive. While theories abound, the true origin of the hum remains unknown, leaving both experts and individuals alike intrigued by a phenomenon that transcends geographic boundaries and defies conventional explanations.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

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The path to better hearing, today

<p>In 1902, Princess Alexandra of Denmark, who would very soon become Queen Consort of the United Kingdom alongside King Edward VII, found herself enraptured by a fascinating new device that was fast becoming the talk of Europe.</p> <p>The young princess had been fitted with one of the world’s first portable electric hearing aids, and it proved to be a life-changing success.</p> <p>Back in Denmark, the impact of this event became a clarion call to one Hans Demant, a bicycle manufacturer and purveyor of sewing machines. His wife, Camilla, also suffered from severe hearing loss and so, after a determined journey to London, Hans returned with a precious electric “Acousticon”.</p> <p>Witnessing Camilla’s progress served as a source of inspiration for Hans to extend his assistance to a broader community of individuals suffering with hearing loss, and so he initiated the import of hearing devices from America. In 1904, Hans Demant founded the company that would later become known as <a href="https://www.oticon.co.nz/">Oticon</a>, a name now synonymous with cutting-edge hearing solutions, paving the way for the modern hearing aids we know today and bringing new-found joy to millions worldwide.</p> <h3>Hearing health</h3> <p>Hearing health is a such critical aspect of our overall well-being, yet it often goes overlooked until problems arise. In New Zealand, hearing issues affect a surprisingly large portion of the population, with a 2022 EHIMA report estimating as many as one in ten New Zealanders are living with hearing loss. Sadly, a lack of awareness can lead to irregular hear- ing check-ups, which in turn leads to delayed diagnosis and treatment.</p> <h3><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-50616" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/11/miniRITE_R_H1-2023_RightLeft_C090ChromaBeige_LEDgreen_Speaker60_OpenBassDome_500pctSize_w_shadow_1280.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="642" /></h3> <h3>A new world of sounds</h3> <p>A far cry from the bulky hearing aids of over a century ago that were hailed as a miracle in the press and transformed Queen Alexandra’s life, the pinnacle of today’s devices – such as <a href="https://www.oticon.co.nz/hearing-aid-users/hearing-aids/products/real" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Oticon Real™ hearing aids</a> – continue to change the way we experience the world of sound.</p> <p>With their advanced processing capabilities and state-of-the-art technology, Oticon Real can help get back the real sounds of life, precise and optimally balanced, whether it’s the laughter of grandchildren, musical notes or simply the rustling of leaves in the wind.</p> <p>One of the standout features of Oticon Real hearing aids is a unique technology called Deep Neural Network (DNN). This built-in intelligence has learned to recognise all types of sounds, their details, and how they should ideally sound. This means they can instantly adapt to changes, keeping you at your best wherever life takes you.</p> <p>By analysing and adjusting to your environment, Oticon Real hearing aids ensure that they provide what you need to hear. They do this by reducing background noise, which can help enhance speech comprehension and allow you to engage effortlessly in conversations, even in noisy settings.</p> <h3>Connection is key</h3> <p>In today’s digital age, connectivity is paramount, and Oticon Real hearing aids certainly rise to the challenge, offering seamless connectivity to compatible* smartphones and other Bluetooth-enabled devices. You can effortlessly stream phone calls, music and other audio directly to your hearing aids, vastly enhancing your listening experience.</p> <h3><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-50617" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/11/Oticon_Real_Still_Life_miniRITE_R_Wallet_JBS_24873_1280.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="863" /></h3> <h3>Improved quality of life</h3> <p>Perhaps the most significant benefit of Oticon Real hearing aids is their positive impact on your quality of life. Improved hearing can lead to increased social engagement, better relationships and enhanced overall well-being. With the help of Oticon Real, you can participate more actively in social gatherings, make the most of your favourite activities and feel more connected to the world around you.</p> <p>Oticon Real hearing aids aren’t just devices; they are a life-changing gift that allow you to reconnect with the sounds and people you love. No longer are they fit just for a queen; they are readily available to anyone with the need and the longing to be truly present for life’s most cherished moments.</p> <p><em>For more information and to find your nearest hearing clinic, visit <a href="https://www.oticon.co.nz/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">oticon.co.nz</a></em></p> <p><em>*For information on hearing aid and device compatibility, visit <a href="https://www.oticon.co.nz/compatibility" target="_blank" rel="noopener">www.oticon.co.nz/compatibility</a></em></p> <p><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-50618" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/11/Oticon_Real_miniRITE_R_9_colors_lineup_1280.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="125" /></p> <p><em>All images: Supplied.</em></p> <p><em>This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with Oticon.</em></p>

Hearing

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"Death was a blessing": Why father was glad to hear his daughter was killed

<p>A devastated, recently widowed father has revealed why he was relieved his eight-year-old daughter was killed by Hamas terrorists in Israel. </p> <p>Thomas Hand, an Irish-born father who moved to Israel 30 years ago, tearfully told CNN that he welcomed the news that his daughter, Emily, had been killed quickly by Hamas, because it was better than being taken hostage and tortured by the terrorists. </p> <p>Mr Hand was already grieving the loss of his wife, who died of cancer in recent years, when his daughter was killed during the conflict between Israel and Palestine. </p> <p>In the heartbreaking interview, Mr Hand broke down in tears as he recounted the moment he was finally told his daughter's body had been found, and said his reaction was one of relief that she had not been kidnapped instead.</p> <p>He said in a shaking voice, "They just said we found Emily, she's dead and I went, 'yes'. I went, 'yes' and smiled because that is the best news of the possibilities that I knew."</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/CySvzswoJFb/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/CySvzswoJFb/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by CNN (@cnn)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>"That was the best, possibly that I was hoping for. She was either dead or in Gaza. And if you know anything about what they do to people in Gaza, that is worse than death."</p> <p>"That is worse than death. The way they treat you. They'd have no food, they'd have no water." </p> <p>He continued, "She'd be in a dark room filled with Christ knows how many people and terrified every minute, hour, day and possible years to come."</p> <p>"So, death was a blessing, an absolute blessing."</p> <p>Recounting the savage attack, Mr Hand said, "I had to think of Emily. She already lost her mother, I couldn't risk her losing her father too."</p> <p>Revealing harrowing details of events surrounding the attack, he shared why he survived and his daughter did not.</p> <p>"She doesn't do it very often, but unfortunately that night, that particular night - Friday night - she went to sleep at her friend's house."</p> <p>The following morning, Hamas attacked the kibbutz where Emily was staying, killing at least 100 civilians and taking hostages to Gaza. </p> <p><em>Image credits: CNN</em></p>

Family & Pets

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6 natural remedies for tinnitus

<p>As anyone who’s ever experienced will agree, tinnitus is about as fun as repeatedly stubbing your big toe. But the good news is needn’t suffer in silence. There is a range of natural remedies available, and while these won’t eliminate tinnitus completely they may be used to help manage the condition.</p> <p>Before we go through some of the natural remedies, it might be useful to take a moment to understand what tinnitus actually is. Tinnitus is a physical condition that is usually caused by a fault in the hearing system where someone experiences noises or ringing in their ears when there is no external noise presents. It’s important to know tinnitus is symptom, and not a disease. It can be caused by a variety of things including exposure to loud noises, earwax blockages, ear-bone changes and age-related hearing lost. Approximately one in five Australians suffer from tinnitus.</p> <p><strong>1. Gingko biloba</strong></p> <p>Across the board, gingko biloba is generally considered one of the stronger herbal remedies for tinnitus. This widely available herbal remedy is often used to improve blood circulation, which can reduce the ringing sensation and improve the function of your ears. It also contains handy antibacterial and antifungal properties that can help eliminate any existing infections.</p> <p><strong>2. Apple cider vinegar</strong></p> <p>Apple cider vinegar provides a particularly useful daily tonic to help reduce the effects of tinnitus. A natural antifungal and anti-inflammatory agent, apple cider vinegar also works to alkalize your body and help rebalance your internal levels. Again, this remedy is quite helpful when it comes to getting rid of any underlying infections or fungus that may be contributing to your tinnitus.</p> <p><strong>3. Alpha lipoic acid</strong></p> <p>Alpha lipoic acid provides tinnitus sufferers with another handy supplement that can help minimise the effects of this condition. Functioning as an antioxidant, this vitamin-like chemical is known to help treat cell damage and restore natural vitamin levels in your body. Alpha lipoic acid has also been known to help improve neuron function and conduction, which may be contributing factors.</p> <p><strong>4. Holy basil</strong></p> <p>Here’s another natural remedy for treating tinnitus. Holy basil is known to contain a range of antibacterial properties and can be used to help kill the bacteria that may be contributing to the problem. In addition, holy basil can also be used as a way to provide you with relief from more severe forms of ear pain. It won’t solve the problem, but it will make it easier to manage.</p> <p><strong>5. Onions and garlic</strong></p> <p>While they might not make your breath smell the best on a hot date, onions and garlic have been used in the past to provide relief for tinnitus sufferers. Onions contain medicinal and antibacterial properties to help fight infections, while garlic can help reduce inflammation and improve blood circulation, which is particularly useful for tinnitus that is caused by high altitudes.</p> <p><strong>6. Saline solution</strong></p> <p>Here’s another nifty way to treat tinnitus naturally. Saline solution can help clear any blocked nasal passages and ease the pressure caused by excessive fluids that are building up in your sinuses. This simple remedy is a great way to provide effective relief from particular forms of tinnitus. </p> <p>So there you go, six handy ways to help relive yourself of the effects of tinnitus. Ultimately we would recommend that you go to a doctor and get a proper diagnosis if you happen to be suffering from tinnitus, but at the very least it’s handy to know that these natural remedies are around.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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These 11 simple everyday things could be ruining your hearing

<p><strong>Protect your ears</strong></p> <p>You know a leaf blower can do a number on your hearing or a loud rock concert can make your ears ring for days. But there are all sorts of surprising everyday items that can have an impact on your hearing, and you don’t want to wait until you’re collecting Social Security to take action – Millennials are losing their hearing, too.</p> <p>From your kitchen to your yard, your medicines to your health conditions, here are things that affect your ears. Take a listen.</p> <p><strong>Blood-related conditions </strong></p> <p>Types 1 and 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol affect almost every cell in the body – including the ears. Vibrations from tiny hair cells in your ears send your brain messages about what you’re hearing, but those cells need proper blood flow.</p> <p>“All those hair cells are fed nutrients by tiny little capillaries,” says audiologist Craig A. Kasper. “If there’s any problem with blood flow, you’re not going to get those hair cells to grow.” People who have diabetes, for instance, are twice as likely to experience hearing loss than the rest of the population, he says.</p> <p><strong>Blow-dryers</strong></p> <p>A hairdryer near your head could be putting out 85 or more decibels of noise. Long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 dB is when people are at risk of hearing loss, says the US National Institutes of Health. You’d probably have to dry your hair for eight hours straight before it did any damage, but that loud part of your beauty regime could add up over time, says clinical audiologist Kit Frank.</p> <p>“The more you use [blow-dryers] and the longer you use them, the more likely you are to have damage,” she says. “It might not do immediate damage, but over time it will.”</p> <p><strong>Loud music</strong></p> <p>You know what it was like when you came home after a loud concert: The ringing in your ears was a sure sign the music was too loud. But even the tunes coming through your headphones could damage your ears. Earbuds are typically more damaging than over-the-ear headphones because they rest deeper in your ear canal, says Frank.</p> <p>And if you crank up the volume to drown out the noise around you, things get even riskier, says Kasper. “You typically have to compete with the environmental noise to hear the music,” he says. “That’s when it becomes dangerous.” Sticking with volume at or below 60 per cent will keep the sound at a safe level, he says. If you can’t hear at that volume, buy sound-blocking headphones to cut out the outside noise.</p> <p><strong>Skipping your annual check-up</strong></p> <p>Most hearing loss comes from gradual damage to your inner ear, but blockages are totally treatable. During your annual visit to your GP, your doctor should check the inside of your ears for wax build-up. Skip that check-up and you might end up with clogged earwax muffling your hearing, says Frank.</p> <p>But you might also get stuffed-up ears after a specific event, says Kasper. “It could be someone has a history of sinus infections or allergies, or just took multiple plane rides and their ears are clogged,” he says. “It makes us feel like we’re underwater."</p> <p><strong>Prescriptions </strong></p> <p>Hearing loss could be a side effect of your medication. Some diuretics for heart disease, chemotherapy and antibiotics (especially gentamicin, neomycin, and others in the -mycin family) could damage your ears.</p> <p>Getting better is your first priority, but it’s worth talking to your doctor about whether the dose is high enough to do damage. “High doses of any antibiotic can be dangerous,” says Frank. “Usually myacins are used in high doses.”</p> <p><strong>Over-the-counter pain relievers </strong></p> <p>Even pain relievers you get over the counter, like aspirin and ibuprofen, could do damage in high amounts. Any hearing loss or tinnitus from them is usually temporary, but the side effects are sometimes permanent.</p> <p>As long as you stick with baby aspirin or regular doses of a pain medication, though, you won’t risk ruining your hearing, says Kasper.</p> <p><strong>High fever</strong></p> <p>As if a high fever weren’t bad enough, that elevated temperature could also damage the nerves in your inner ear, either because of inflammation or lack of oxygen.</p> <p>“If you don’t get that oxygen to the nerves, they break down and they don’t work like they should,” says Frank.</p> <p><strong>Exercise classes</strong></p> <p>Exercise classes are often very loud. The music blasting at your group workout might power you through your sweat session, but it might be working your ears in a bad way. “If you walk out of spin classes and your ears are buzzing, that’s an indication that you may have done damage to your ears,” says Kasper.</p> <p>Download an app to your smartphone to measure the sound level around you throughout your day, he recommends. Consider using hearing protection if your fitness centre is particularly noisy.</p> <p><strong>Kitchen appliances</strong></p> <p>Noisy appliances like blenders and coffee grinders could do damage to your ears over time. The more often you get those noisy blades going, the more trauma your ears go through. Hard-core chefs should consider ear protection, though the occasional smoothie isn’t anything to worry about.</p> <p>“If you’re in the kitchen and cooking and using a blender all day, that’s a problem,” says Frank. “If you use it for ten seconds once a week, it probably won’t be a problem for you.”</p> <p><strong>Power tools </strong></p> <p>The racket from lawnmowers, jackhammers, leaf blowers, drills and other power tools isn’t just a headache, it also risks hearing damage. You’ll need to protect your ears, but earplugs might not be the best choice. Putting fingers grimy from the tools so close to your ear canal could put you at risk for infection, says Kasper.</p> <p>Instead, pick up a pair of earmuffs from the hardware store. “They go right over the ear, and they’re easy to take on and off,” Kasper says.</p> <p><strong>Your commute</strong></p> <p>Public transport can be noisy, and sitting on a train or bus for half an hour to and from work could add up over time and hurt your ears, says Frank.</p> <p>Plus, the siren of an emergency vehicle passing you on the street could be loud enough to do some damage. “Covering your ears is a good thing – it’s not silly,” says Frank.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/hearing/listen-up-11-surprising-things-that-could-ruin-your-hearing?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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Survey reveals over a third of us are neglecting our hearing

<p dir="ltr">A survey conducted by hearing healthcare group Audika - and hosted by Decibel Research - has revealed the hard truth that Australians just aren’t keeping on top of their hearing.</p> <p dir="ltr">Research even found that for 88% percent of respondents - 1,020 individuals over the age of 40 - the thought of losing their eyesight was a bigger concern than losing their hearing. </p> <p dir="ltr">People had a whole host of reasons, but most circled back to the stigma that surrounds hearing loss - they feared that hearing aids would make them look older, or that they might be too uncomfortable, or even that they’re simply too expensive for the average person, despite 37% of those surveyed admitting that they would probably benefit from one. </p> <p dir="ltr">34% - roughly one third of the participants - confessed that they probably do have difficulty hearing, but have never undergone testing or sought out any sort of treatment. Meanwhile, 61% admitted that the chances of them partaking in a hearing test in the following 12 months were slim to none. </p> <p dir="ltr">Even more concerning were the 51% - over half of those surveyed - said that they would put off wearing a hearing loss “as long as possible”, even to their own detriment. Their minds wouldn’t change even if they received a hearing loss diagnosis. </p> <p dir="ltr">And this is all despite 69% of those with hearing loss reporting that their lives had been negatively impacted, from 35% citing their personal relationships as the area of concern to 35% noting their social life in general, and 19% looking to their career. </p> <p dir="ltr">Those same respondents shared that they have experienced difficulty communicating and that others don’t always understand them, often withdrawn from various events, and have faced a lack of confidence in navigating social situations. None of which can have been helped by the jokes from loved ones that a quarter of them also reported. </p> <p dir="ltr">It is more important than ever to address these statistics, and to overcome the stigma that surrounds hearing loss, as the World Health Organisation has estimated that by 2050, 1 in every 4 people around the world will experience hearing loss of some degree. On top of this, it’s believed that up to one third of the world’s population may be both undiagnosed and consequently untreated.</p> <p dir="ltr">Luckily for us, preventative measures can be taken, and the first - and arguably most important step - is to take our hearing health seriously, and make the necessary changes that will benefit us in the long run. The importance of taking such measures cannot be stressed enough, from managing symptoms all the way to preventing other “serious health conditions”.</p> <p dir="ltr">As Audika’s Audiologist and Clinical Trainer Lauren McNee put it, “poor hearing, if untreated, is linked to a number of other health conditions including mental health challenges. </p> <p dir="ltr">“The results of the recent survey indicate that Aussies don’t seem to be aware of how common hearing loss can be. They also appear to be unaware of the serious daily impacts that are felt by people that are hard of hearing, and their loved ones.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Unfortunately, stigma surrounding hearing health is still prevalent across our society – yet more than half (51%) of the survey respondents said that they have a loved one that experiences it. </p> <p dir="ltr">“With greater understanding of the impacts of hearing loss and compassion for each other, we can work towards more open conversations around hearing loss and encourage those we care about to be more proactive with their hearing health.”</p> <p dir="ltr">To help Australians on their way towards a better hearing future, Audika are encouraging people over the age of 26 to head out, learn to ‘Love Your Ears’, and visit an Audika clinic for a free hearing check. </p> <p dir="ltr">And for those who’d prefer to do it from the comfort of home, you can head over to <a href="https://www.audika.com.au/online-hearing-test">Audika’s five-minute online hearing check</a>. </p> <p dir="ltr">For more information, visit <a href="https://www.audika.com.au/">Audika’s official website</a>. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

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"I can't hear you!": New feature set to do away with subtitles

<p>Nothing is more annoying than sitting in front of your TV, eager to watch your favourite show only for the dialogue to be completely wiped because of cars passing by or a plane taking off.</p> <p>Not being able to hear the dialogue in a TV show or movie, especially in an action or crime-driven blockbuster where anything exploding masks all dialogue has been an everlasting problem for viewers.</p> <p><em>Netflix</em> has revealed that 40 per cent of subscribers have subtitles on at all times while surveys in the US and UK saw anywhere between 60 and 70 per cent of young viewers as frequent users of subtitles.</p> <p>If you’re using subtitles for the purpose of hearing the dialogue rather an accessibility reasons, streaming giant <em>Amazon</em> is introducing a new feature that could eradicate the need to turn them on because of the sound mix.</p> <p>The feature is called ”dialogue boost" and it raises the volume of the dialogue track relative to the score, ambient sound or effects.</p> <p>Although <em>Amazon</em> has so generously offered this solution to subscribers, the dialogue boost feature will only be available on a handful of <em>Amazon</em> <em>Prime Video’s</em> originals, like Beautiful Boy, Being The Ricardos, Jack Ryan and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel.</p> <p>A similar feature already appears on some expensive sound systems and TV sets, but <em>Amazon</em> boasts it’s the first streaming platform to roll it out worldwide.</p> <p>To work the feature, select it from the audio and subtitles drop-down menu on an individual title, there will be two options to select from, “English Dialogue Boost: High” or “English Dialogue Boost: Medium”.</p> <p>The title page for a TV series or movie will show whether the dialogue boost is available.</p> <p>According to Variety, the helpful feature was originally designed for hearing-impaired viewers.</p> <p>Rest assured, if you struggle to hear the dialogue due to the sound mix, there's help on the way, granted it's exclusive to <em>Amazon</em>.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p>

TV

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Woman who killed grandfather apologises

<p>Alisha Fagan claims she has changed her ways since killing a beloved grandfather in a crash while drunk and initially blaming four African men.</p> <p>The 21-year-old woman from Melbourne read out a letter of apology to Sedat Hassan’s family as she faced the Country Koori Court for a pre-sentence hearing on Monday.</p> <p>Fagan was on a suspended learners permit, drunk and driving more than 25km/h over the speed limit when she hit the 69-year-old man’s car, resulting in his death on June 9 2022.</p> <p>Hours before the incident, the court heard Fagan had been drinking wine from the bottle with a friend near the Maribyrnong River.</p> <p>The two friends then travelled to Sunshine West and picked up two men. Fagan’s passengers fled when she failed to give way and crashed into Mr Hassan’s car.</p> <p>She waited for emergency services to arrive, gave the police officers a fake name and said she was not driving at the time, instead pinning the blame on four African men.</p> <p>“She went on to tell the police four African males were in the car at the time and had fled the scene after the collision," prosecutor Kristie Churchill told the court.</p> <p>"She stated that she had only just met these males.”</p> <p>Fagan has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and drug possession; she was on four sets of bail at the time of the incident and was facing about a dozen driving offences.</p> <p>She was released on bail to undergo rehabilitation.</p> <p>Fagan shed tears as Mr Hassan’s family remembered him as a beloved father and grandfather who spent a great deal of his time caring for his disabled son, in statements read to the court.</p> <p>"My husband was my world, I can't bring him back," his wife said.</p> <p>"My son, who has autism, gets up in the middle of the night and opens all the windows looking for his father.”</p> <p>One of Mr Hassan’s sons shared his father had waited for years to become a grandfather.</p> <p>"As soon as he became one, he only got to hold his grandson three times and be with him until he was four months old," he said.</p> <p>Fagan read a letter of apology to Mr Hassan’s family, saying she took full responsibility for his death.</p> <p>"I only have myself to blame. At the time of this tragedy I was a severe alcoholic, had no impulse control, had no understanding of consequences," she told the court.</p> <p>"I've spent the last nine months improving myself every single day so that this will never, ever happen again.</p> <p>"Please know that who I was then and who I am now are not the same person."</p> <p>The hearing has been adjourned to May 9.</p> <p><em>Image credit: TikTok</em></p>

Legal

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"If you want to kick him, come kick me too”: Stars turn out to defend Charlie Teo

<p>Famous friends of Dr Charlie Teo have defended his character and shown their support as the neurosurgeon faces a five-day disciplinary hearing by the Health Care Complaints Commission.</p> <p>Steve Waugh and Anthony Mundine were among Dr Teo’s high profile mates who spoke to <a href="https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/health-problems/anthony-mundine-steve-waugh-supporting-controversial-surgeon-dr-charlie-teo/news-story/bb8567814607fe4fcdbd8f5dbaaa4a73" target="_blank" rel="noopener">news.com.au</a> outside the Health Professional Councils Authority building on Monday morning.</p> <p>Mundine said he has known Dr Teo, who has divided critics for his work on brain tumours deemed inoperable by other neurosurgeons, “for some time”.</p> <p>“I just know the character the man is… We’ve built a good relationship over the years, and got closer and closer,” he said.</p> <p>“He’s been blessed with unbelievable skills in the neurosurgeon game and is one of the best in the world”.</p> <p>Mundine was then quizzed on his thoughts about the criticism Dr Teo has faced in recent months, saying, “There will be people that hate it… it’s a 50/50 game, you’re gonna win some, you lose some.”</p> <p>“But I’m here. If you want to kick him, come kick me too”.</p> <p>Also showing his support for the controversial doctor was cricketing legend Steve Waugh, who claims Dr Teo saved his wife Lynette’s life when he removed a large blood clot from her brain.</p> <p>“I’ve referred him to a number of friends as well,” Waugh said.</p> <p>“He’s done an amazing job – over 11,000 operations. He takes some of the tough cases no one else wants to”.</p> <p>He said it was “hard for me to know why people don’t like him” but thought it could be a “little bit of tall poppy syndrome”.</p> <p>“I guess it makes him a target with some people,” Waugh said.</p> <p>“I just hope he gets a fair go.”</p> <p>The support from famous friends comes after Teo <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/news/news/the-agenda-is-to-destroy-charlie-teo-final-hit-ahead-of-hearing" target="_blank" rel="noopener">lashed out</a> against the recent allegations made against him of unprofessional conduct, saying that such claims are driven by professional jealousy, and are largely designed to take him down and to prevent the rise of any good, young “aggressive” neurosurgeons.</p> <p>Appearing on a podcast with businessman and former TV host Mark Bouris, Teo said,“It’s got nothing to do with fairness, what’s right or wrong. It’s all got to do with people’s agendas. And the agenda is to destroy Charlie Teo.” </p> <p>“I know that I’ve got this skill … I take out tumours that no one else can take out. And all the surgeons around the world that watch me are just absolutely amazed by it. So when I operate in other countries, I get four or five or 10 or 20 neurosurgeons watching it, and they just are blown away by it.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Instagram</em></p> <div class="media image portrait side-by-side" style="caret-color: #000000; color: #000000; font-style: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-weight: 400; letter-spacing: normal; orphans: auto; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: auto; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-size-adjust: auto; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; text-decoration: none; box-sizing: inherit; display: flex; flex-direction: column; align-items: center; width: 338.492645px; float: left; margin-left: 0px; margin-right: 14.099264px; margin-bottom: 24px;"> </div>

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“The agenda is to destroy Charlie Teo”: Final hit ahead of hearing

<p>Appearing on a podcast with businessman and former TV host Mark Bouris, famed neurosurgeon Charlie Teo has lashed out against the recent allegations made against him of unprofessional conduct, saying that such claims are driven by professional jealousy, and are largely designed to take him down and to prevent the rise of any good, young “aggressive” neurosurgeons.</p> <p>Teo is set to face an additional disciplinary hearing by the Health Care Complaints Commission, and did not hold back in his assessment of the attacks on him and his career to date. </p> <p>“It’s got nothing to do with fairness, what’s right or wrong,” he said to podcast host Bouris. “It’s all got to do with people’s agendas. And the agenda is to destroy Charlie Teo.” </p> <p>“I know that I’ve got this skill … I take out tumours that no one else can take out. And all the surgeons around the world that watch me are just absolutely amazed by it. So when I operate in other countries, I get four or five or 10 or 20 neurosurgeons watching it, and they just are blown away by it.”</p> <p>Teo also told Bouris that the worst thing about being “subjected to all this vexatious vilification by colleagues” is that it sends a message to “all those good, young, aggressive neurosurgeons” that “if you try and do what Charlie does, this is what’s going to happen to you.”</p> <p>He alleged that one of the doctors complaining about him is “in competition with me.” The surgeon also claimed that he was “being judged by your enemies … it’s totally stacked”.</p> <p>Teo also took aim at sections of the press for publishing articles and airing shows that called his practice and motives into question.</p> <p>Channel Nine’s <em>60 Minutes</em> program in particular <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/opinions-divided-over-fresh-dr-charlie-teo-claims" target="_blank" rel="noopener">interviewed several of Dr Teo’s past patients</a>, one of whom spoke about the "false hope" given to his family when dealing with the surgeon.</p> <p>The program claimed that Teo had charged families huge sums of money for ultimately futile operations. While the HCCC was investigating those initial complaints, Teo’s brain stem surgeries were deemed a possible public health and safety risk. After an urgent hearing of the NSW Medical Council in August 2021, conditions were placed on Teo’s ability to practice.</p> <p>Teo also told Bouris on his podcast that medical authorities “can always hide behind this feigned altruism or public safety concept” and that the real reason he could no longer operate in Australia was that his colleagues were resentful of his ability to “take out tumours that other people have called inoperable”.</p> <p>Teo complained that just because he has had some bad surgical outcomes, these shouldn’t negate thousands of other successful surgeries.</p> <p>Teo also rejected the claims of overcharging patients, saying a mentor had once advised him to charge what you think you deserve. “I haven’t really wanted this to be known, but I’ll tell you now…more than half my patients I don’t charge,” he told Bouris.</p> <p>Teo also said that as he nears the end of his professional medical career he wanted people to know that he “didn’t charge police officers, fellow doctors, nurses, friends of friends, pensioners who couldn’t afford it.”</p> <p>“There are some countries in the world that want me,” continued Teo on the podcast. “But as soon as [they] find out that I'm operating in a particular country, they go and try and destroy my reputation there as well.</p> <p>“I'm not going to say anything at this stage, but a few countries have been trying to seduce me to operate there. </p> <p>“So I'm hopefully going to be able to operate in some other countries.”</p> <p><em>Image: Instagram</em></p>

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3 things to consider when travelling with hearing loss

<p>Hearing loss is a challenge, but with some preparation your holiday can go off without a hitch. Here are five ways to manage hearing loss while travelling.</p> <p><strong>1. While you’re at the airport</strong></p> <p>If you think you’re going to require assistance boarding the plane or during your flight, it’s a good idea to inform your airline at least 48 hours before boarding. It’s also a good idea to ask staff to inform you personally when the plane is ready to board, or stand near the boarding desk as it might be difficult to hear announcements over the loudspeaker.</p> <p><strong>2. While you’re on the plane  </strong></p> <p>Cabin crew are generally well trained to cater for travellers with hearing loss, but it’s a good idea to explain your difficulties as you’re boarding. That way they can keep you informed of any important messages on your trip regarding delays or even emergencies. Some airlines will even board you first, and provide you with an individual safety briefing.</p> <p><strong>3. When you arrive at your destination</strong></p> <p>There’s a few things to consider when you reach your destination, but it’s generally a good idea to make sure you have enough batteries for your trip with a few spare ones thrown in. It’s generally a good idea to bring a decent supply (better to take too many than too few) and spread them out over too bags in case one of them is lost in transit.</p> <p>Also, if you’re travelling anywhere that’s humid or tropical it might also be an idea to pack a dehumidifier pack to minimise the change of corrosion of the device.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

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5 sounds you hear on the plane explained

<p>Nervous fliers know just how freaky a sudden noise on the plane can be, but we’ve broken down the most common ones you’ll hear and what they mean so you can travel with ease.</p> <ol> <li><strong>The puff of air at the gate</strong> – it’s usually one of the first unsettling sounds you’ll hear on the plane, but it’s one of the most important – it signals that the ventilation on the plane has been switched on. It’s also why lights can tend to flicker, as the plane is moving from an off-board power source to an onboard system.</li> <li><strong>The “bark” during taxi</strong> – before take-off and landing, it’s normal for the plane to make a sort of “barking” noise. This is just the hydraulics kicking in, ensuring steering, braking and air pressure are all at optimum levels for a safe departure or arrival.</li> <li><strong>The wings “whirring”</strong> – upon take-off and even during flight, you may hear a “whir” coming from the wings. This sound indicates the wingspan is expanding and retracting to help assist take-off and speed maintenance.</li> <li><strong>The “bang” from the belly of the plane</strong> – this noise can be pretty scary as you make your descent into your destination, but it’s completely safe. All it means is the landing gear is being released so you can arrive safely.</li> <li><strong>The brakes “screeching”</strong> – don’t be alarmed by this sound, it’s just the plane’s natural response to landing at the speed of 160 to 240 kph while carrying hundreds of tonnes of cargo and passengers.</li> </ol> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

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5 interesting facts about how we hear

<p>The cochlea is the most complex part of the ear, responsible for turning sounds waves into what we perceive as “hearing”. Here are five more facts about this amazing organ.</p> <p><strong>1. The cochlea turns sounds into “hearing”</strong></p> <p>The cochlea receives sounds in the form of vibrations and converts them into nerve impulses. These impulses are sent to the brain to be translated into sounds that we recognise and understand.</p> <p><strong>2. The cochlea is the size of a pea</strong></p> <p>Located in the inner ear, the cochlea looks like a snail shell (cochlea is Greek for snail) and is only the size of a pea. Yet within the small pea is everything needed to turn sound vibrations into hearing.</p> <p><strong>3. There are over 20,000 nerve cells in the cochlea</strong></p> <p>There are approximately 24,000 hair fibres in the cochlea, which are essential to hearing. If these hair cells become damaged, hearing impairment occurs.</p> <p><strong>4. Cochlear implants directly stimulate auditory nerve</strong></p> <p>A cochlear implant bypasses damaged hair cells in the cochlear to provide direct stimulation to the auditory nerve.</p> <p><strong>5. The cochlea can’t heal</strong></p> <p>The cochlea cannot heal so damage done to your ear when younger can affect you later in life. It can be damaged by immune reactions, disease, drugs, chemicals, toxins, loud sounds, physical impact and ageing.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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Pumping loud music is putting more than 1 billion young people at risk of hearing loss

<p>Music is an integral part of human life. It’s all around us, just like sunshine, lifting our mood. We enjoy it so much that many of us take it with us everywhere on our phones or we spend weekends hitting the club scene, live-music venues or concerts.</p> <p>Meanwhile, many of us may have felt annoyed by loud sound from music venues or remarked on sound emanating from someone else’s headphones. We’re probably aware we should prevent hearing loss from loud industrial noise at work or from using power tools at home. </p> <p>A systematic review released today in <a href="https://globalhealth.bmj.com/lookup/doi/10.1136/bmjgh-2022-010501">BMJ Global Health</a> reports unsafe listening practices in adolescents and young adults from using personal listening devices (such as phones or digital music players) and going to loud clubs and gigs are common, and could be a major factor contributing to hearing loss. </p> <p>In fact, the authors estimate the pumping tunes could be placing up to 1.35 billion young people at risk of hearing loss worldwide.</p> <h2>What the study looked at</h2> <p>Systematic analysis involves looking across multiple studies to identify consistent findings. In this study, the authors included 33 peer-reviewed studies published between 2000 and 2021, involving over 19,000 people, aged 12–34. </p> <p>In the study, unsafe listening was identified as listening at levels above 80 decibels for over 40 hours per week. For context, this is the level above which most Australian states <a href="https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/safety-topic/hazards/noise/overview#:%7E:text=Workers%20must%20not%20be%20exposed,on%20decibels%20and%20time%20exposed.">require industry</a> to implement noise protection processes such as use of hearing protectors.</p> <p>The study confirms the rate of unsafe listening practices is high in adolescents and young adults: 23.81% of them were listening to music on personal devices at unsafe levels and 48.2% at loud entertainment venues (though this rate is less certain). Based on global estimates of population, this translates to up to 1.35 billion young people at risk of hearing loss globally. The World Health Organization <a href="https://www.who.int/health-topics/hearing-loss#tab=tab_1">estimates</a> over 430 million people worldwide already have a disabling hearing loss and prevalence could double if hearing loss prevention is not prioritised.</p> <p>The results tally with our previous studies conducted by Australia’s National Acoustic Laboratories and HEARing Cooperative Research Centre. </p> <p>More than a decade ago we <a href="https://acc.hearingservices.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/hso/f1f6299d-96f3-408e-be4b-0775af6d7f41/Lifetime_profile_exposure_sound_what_safe_HLPP2.pdf?MOD=AJPERES">reported</a> a high potential for hearing loss from attendance at nightclubs, pubs and live concerts in young Australians aged between 18–35 years. </p> <p>Back then, we found 13% of young Australians (aged 18–35) were getting a yearly noise dose from nightclubs, concerts and sporting activities that exceeded the maximum acceptable dose in industry. In 2015, the WHO launched the <a href="https://www.who.int/activities/making-listening-safe">Make listening Safe</a>initiative to encourage young people to protect their hearing.</p> <h2>Why it’s bad for your hearing</h2> <p>So what’s the problem with loud music? Like sunshine, overexposure can lead to harm. </p> <p>Loud noise, including music, can <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hearing_loss/how_does_loud_noise_cause_hearing_loss.html">kill off hair cells and membranes</a> in the inner ear (the cochlea). Once hearing is lost, a person mightn’t be able to hear or understand speech or sounds around them. </p> <p><a href="https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/noise-induced-hearing-loss">Research</a> shows hearing loss results from a combination of sound being too loud (and it doesn’t need to be painful to cause hearing damage), listening to loud sound too long (and the louder the sound, the less time you can listen before your hearing is at risk) and how often you are exposed (and hearing damage is cumulative over time). </p> <p>A good “rule of ear” is that if you hear ringing in your ears at or after listening, you are at risk of damaging your hearing. This type of hearing loss is <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hearing_loss/how_does_loud_noise_cause_hearing_loss.html">permanent</a> and may require use of hearing aids or cochlear implants.</p> <h2>Wait, so no loud music at all?</h2> <p>So what can we do, short of throwing away our headphones and avoiding clubbing and live music?</p> <p>First, just like with the sun and skin, we need to be aware of the risks to our hearing and take the necessary steps to protect ourselves. We need to be aware of how loud sound is around us and how to keep our exposure within safe levels. We can do this by using personal hearing protection in clubs (such as <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-earplugs-for-concerts/">ear muffs or ear plugs</a> that are fit for purpose), or limiting how often we visit noisy music venues or how long we stay at really loud ones.</p> <p>In Australia, people can access a free <a href="https://knowyournoise.nal.gov.au/">noise risk calculator</a> to calculate their personal risk using an online sound level meter, and to explore how changes in lifestyle could protect their hearing while still allowing them to enjoy music.</p> <p>Most phones now come with software that can <a href="https://www.headphonesty.com/2022/03/iphone-headphone-safety/#:%7E:text=Key%20features%20of%20the%20iPhone%20Headphone%20Safety%20feature&amp;text=According%20to%20the%20WHO%20standard,risk%20of%20sustaining%20hearing%20damage.">monitor safe listening levels</a> and limit exposure.</p> <p>Hearing protection at the venue level is more challenging and may require regulatory and industry-based approaches. Our <a href="https://academic.oup.com/annweh/article/64/4/342/5811673">2020 research</a> identified hazard controls for entertainment venues, such alternating volume between louder and softer levels, rotating staff, providing quiet rooms, and raising speaker locations above head height. We also showed DJs and venues were open to initiatives aimed at reducing the risk of hearing loss for their patrons and <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19338244.2020.1828241?journalCode=vaeh20">staff</a>. </p> <p>Compromises are possible and they could enable enjoyment of music at live-music venues, while still protecting hearing. That way everyone will be able keep enjoying music for longer.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/pumping-loud-music-is-putting-more-than-1-billion-young-people-at-risk-of-hearing-loss-194537" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

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Why hearing tests are so important

<p>Currently, one in six Australians has some form of hearing loss. With an ageing population, this statistic is predicted to increase to one in four people by 2050 – therefore, maintaining good hearing is important for leading a healthy and happy life. That’s why it’s important to take early action to look after your hearing health and make sure you get your hearing checked regularly. </p> <p>A simple professional hearing test will evaluate your hearing and see where things are at. A regular check up test shows the hearing capacity of both of your ears as well as looking at which volumes and sounds you can hear without difficulty.</p> <p>Like seeing your doctor or dentist annually, it is recommended to get a hearing check every 12 months if you are over 55, or work in a loud environment. The first hearing test is important for setting a baseline – then changes can be plotted over time and you can adjust your behaviours and habits accordingly if any areas of concern arise.</p> <p>There are now a few ways in which you can have a hearing test done – including doing one online, in writing or by visiting a medical professional. Head over Connect Hearing’s website <strong><a href="http://www.connecthearing.com.au/en/learn-more-about-hearing-loss/online-hearing-test/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">here</span></a> </strong>where you will be able to assess your hearing health in about five minutes. You can also book an appointment to see a professional.</p> <p>If you suspect that you – or some you care about – has a hearing problem, you should book in to see a medical professional at your earliest convenience. </p>

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