Greece and China are often referenced as nations that celebrate ageing and respect elders. But a new survey by Hidden Hearing to mark Positive Ageing Week (27 September – 1 October) shows that 8 in 10 adults in Northern Ireland (79%) believe they learn a lot from older generations.
77% say people get wiser with age, and 78% believe the best advice comes from those with lots of life experience. Those under 35 are slightly more sceptical, with 1 in 3 of the younger cohort (32%) claiming older people are ‘out of touch’ so can’t give good advice.
Advice on family matters is most sought from older people, by over 8 in 10 (84%), while personal relationships (62%) and happiness and personal fulfilment (73%) are viewed as areas in which older people are well placed to offer advice.
The statement that a listening ear is the best solution to problems was supported by 78%, and 65% believe older people tend to be better listeners. Parents are cited as the main source of good advice, while 6 in 10 would trust an older friend or family member most.
Rainy Day Advice
On the subject of the piece of advice that had a big impact, advice around finances was cited numerous times. Financial wisdom included saving for a rainy day, to budget carefully, and to remember that money isn’t everything. 7 in 10 adults claim that ‘Your health is your wealth’ had the biggest impact on them.
To be yourself and believe in yourself, to live in the moment and always trust your gut, to work hard, but remember it’s all about balance, and to prioritise your health and happiness tops the sage advice most frequently given.
Impactful advice came in the main from parents, 4 in 10 nationally said (39%), rising to 1 in 2 (47%) amongst those under 35 relying on parental advice.
76% of people in Northern Ireland believe that if they could speak with their younger self, they would have good advice to offer.
‘Be true to yourself and do what you want, not what you think others want’, was the top sentiment respondents would have had their younger selves believe.
Not to worry about what other people think of you, and not fretting the small stuff, were close runners-up. Working harder in school and staying in education was around the mid-point of people’s wishes for younger versions of themselves.
The fact that older people have so much to offer is celebrated in Positive Ageing Week, and the Hidden Hearing survey was designed to acknowledge that, Dolores Madden, Audiologist and Marketing Director at Hidden Hearing, says.
“Conversation, engaging with people, listening and learning are all core life experiences that rely on the ability to hear clearly. We lose out on a lot, if we don’t make a point of looking after our hearing”, the audiologist believes.
Pandemic Hearing Loss
Last week’s survey also revealed that 12% noticed their hearing had worsened over the past 18 months of the Covid-19 pandemic.
For many people, the introduction of mask-wearing showed the extent to which their hearing had deteriorated. Often, without knowing, they were relying on lip-reading to help with poor hearing and missing out on everyday sounds.
Dolores Madden explains; “The pandemic taught us the value of staying in touch, and the pleasure of engaging with others. Hearing loss is isolating, and it can be frightening to literally not be part of the conversation, or to enjoy the sounds of everyday life.”