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Hearing loss, Aging and Public Health

Professor Frank Lin and Professor David McAlpine

On Friday 10 May, Macquarie University and the Australian Hearing Hub hosted Professor Frank Lin, Director of the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health and a Professor of Otolaryngology, Medicine, Mental Health, and Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins.

The two seminars bought together nearly 200 academics, clinicians and professionals from the hearing health and public health sector.

Frank Lin’s presentation outlined how medicine and public health have evolved through three eras over the past century. Beginning in the first half of the 20th century, infectious diseases were controlled for the first time in human history through vaccinations, hygiene, and other strategies. Subsequently, throughout the 20th century, chronic diseases of middle and later life (e.g., cardiovascular disease, cancers) became the leading causes of mortality but have also increasingly been better controlled. These successes of public health have led to a rapidly increasing population of older adults living longer than ever before. In this third era of public health, we are now confronting the challenge of aging and how to best optimize the health and functioning of a growing population of older adults. In this era, hearing and our ability to engage effectively with the environment around us are critically important but not yet priorities in the spheres of public health and public policy.

Professor Lin talked about his research and highlighted how the broad implications of hearing loss for the health and functioning of older adults, particularly with respect to cognitive functioning, brain aging, and dementia.

Frank Lin also discussed how this epidemiologic research has directly informed and led to current national initiatives focused on hearing loss and public health. These initiatives include the Aging and Cognitive Health Evaluation in Elders (ACHIEVE) randomized controlled trial, the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017, and the development of novel accessible and affordable approaches to hearing care delivery.

Listen to the full presentation:  AHH seminar _ Frank Lin _Recording audio and slides

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