Hearing aids and why I love them

why I love my hearing aids

Acknowledgement

Hearing aids to boost hearing still seem like my personal miracle. I wrote about them when I first got them. But the magic does not disappear.

I put them in when I first wake. Hear the birds outside and the traffic sounds of people going to work in the dark. Take them out last thing before I turn out the light. This morning I heard rain – another sort miracle after so many months with a mere few drops.

I’m reminded of a miracle story in the New Testament. Jesus restores the hearing of a beggar. He uses his own spit mixed with dirt to make mud which he puts in the man’s ears. Yuk! But the beggar hears instantly.

I’ve had my hearing aids for years and love them. But before that, fear of hearing loss plagued me. Hard to believe, but embarrassment and fear of wearing hearing aids seemed more overwhelming than that of hearing loss itself.

I frequently felt ashamed when I asked people to repeat what they’d said. The early speech of my great-grandchildren often escaped me. I missed precious moments of communication with people I love. Meetings were difficult. The strain of keeping up when two people spoke at once tired me. I often gave up. 

Sometimes, the effort of listening intently showed on my face. Occasionally, I didn’t try to keep up with conversation. Instead, I smiled vaccuously and hoped my response fitted whatever had been said.

May is the month of speech and hearing. I wrote about hearing years ago. But I think it’s time to remind anyone who is concerned about hearing loss, or putting off getting hearing aids, to have their hearing tested.

The process of getting hearing aids

Months before I turned eighty, and as part of the adventure of that transition, I finally sought professional advice. Visits to a general practitioner, an ear nose and throat consultant and to an audiologist took over a month.

The audiologist quizzed me about what I wanted to hear. It seemed a silly question. I wanted to hear everything. He insisted I list what I wanted to hear.

  • Normal conversations and those in restaurants and other crowded places
  • My baby great-grandchildrens’ speech
  • Music of all kinds
  • Meeting discussions
  • Every word in plays and every note at concerts
  • Football commentaries
  • Rain. Rustling leaves. Running water. The kettle boiling. The dishwasher working.
  • Car horns. Traffic.

Wasn’t that what everyone wanted to hear? Apparently not. The audiologist told me that many people only want to hear the television, sometimes the radio.

Oh, yes, I want that too,’ I said and we laughed.

Hearing aids can be simple or more sophisticated according to what people want from them.

If youd said you wanted to hear the television, I would have suggested an entirely different product,’ the audiologist told me. ‘If that was all you wanted.’

The fitting

Are you yelling?’ I asked when the audiologist put  them in my ears for the first time.

No, I’m speaking in a perfectly normal voice,’ he said, grinning. He made an adjustment to my aids on his computer. ‘I’m surprised you cope so well, given the severity of your hearing loss.’

I think I may have learned to lip-read a little without knowing it. But I didn’t think it was that bad,’ I said.

First impressions of hearing aids

Finally, I emerged from his office with a pair of state-of-the-art hearing aids, along with a new perspective on the world and gratitude on my lips. I’d forgotten how wonderful a world full of sound can be. They help me reimagine ageing with hope.

The miracle persists. My hearing aids sit in a crystal bowl, that was my mother’s, overnight and for just as long as it takes me to swim and shower. I forget I’m wearing them. If I occasionally leave home without them, I hate it.

No one seems to notice them. Elizabeth , my sister, didn’t even see the hearing aid when she adjusted one of my earrings at a wedding the week after I got them. And I no longer care who sees.It’s like wearing spectacles, really!

Hearing loss and dementia

There seems to be a strong correlation between  hearing loss and the onset of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. There is not enough research, yet, to show whether hearing loss is a predictor or cause of cognitive decline in later years. Similar findings exist about visual acuity and dementia.

Hearing aids and technology

The technology has advanced over the past few years. Some writers talk about a paradigm shift in the way hearing can be improved, although basic models of hearing aids are still available. Newer models incorporate Bluetooth and Artificial Intelligence. They embrace green technology.

The model the audiologist recommended wasn’t cheap. However with a subsidy from the Australian government and a rebate from a private health insurer, the cost was manageable. It seemed like money well invested in my future health, enjoyment and quality of life.

It’s probably past time I thought about changing for a new set, but these work well. Newer models need charging on electricity, and I hear that the charge doesn’t last longer than ten hours. I’m awake much longer than that.

My one regret is that fear prevented me from dealing with hearing loss earlier. Perhaps if I’d researched I would have acted sooner.

If you or anyone you know has hearing loss, consider the benefits of acting sooner rather than later to have your hearing tested and remedies prescribed. You will be really glad you did! If you have hearing aids, please share your experience in the comments.

signature
Maureen Helen and premature predictions

6 comments

  1. What a fabulous post! I so wish my mother had found some good hearing aids. Your consultation process is one she wasn’t aware of and, I suppose being in the country exacerbated her degree of awareness. Her experience was disconcerting but yours redresses it. I’m making note in case I am in need one day.
    Thank you, once again, for your blog, Maureen. Always adding insight and value from your experience

    1. I’m glad you found the post interesting, Susan. We need to be talking much more about the things that are important to us. I guess I knew this about being a woman, but I never imagined there’s be such silence about ageing. And I’m really distressed by the way ageing, like childbirth, seems to be medicalised instead of being accepted as a normal part of living. You are right about your mother being disadvantaged by living in the country.

      The other thing about hearing aids that I can’t stress enough is that the government does offer a subsidy that almost covers the cost of the most basic hearing aids. They don’t work really well, from what I hear from others, and get tossed in a drawer and forgotten. We should be urging people to get what they need, even if they live on rice and onions to pay for them.

  2. Thanks for your interesting and informative story Maureen. I was not aware of your hearing loss, and am now not at all aware of your hearing aids! I’ll be sharing your blog with Walter. See you for our catchup next week. MX

    1. My pleasure, Margaret. I thought you knew I wear hearing aids, it’s certainly no secret. Happy to talk about using them to improve quality of life and help ward off other nasties! See you on Tuesday morning

  3. I’ve had my hearing aid for approximately five years. Time moves too fast, but five or six years seems right. 😀
    My tiny aids are Bluetooth. I plug them into their little charging box, and the batteries charge overnight. For convenience, they’re designed to last 24 hours. Mine are used for around 15 hours a day.
    My problem was not age-related but was related to constant noise, probably due to years of working with children.
    I was diagnosed with nerve damage, a condition that causes me to miss certain sounds and higher-pitched noises. Volume was never a problem; however, I suspect that my age might have entered the equation today.
    I have an App on my smartphone that allows me to route the TV and phone calls directly to the hearing aids. I prefer not to use that option. I tried it for a short while but disliked it, and at this moment in time, it’s not necessary.
    I could have had free hearing aids through the NHS, but I chose to purchase them privately because this type isn’t available on the NHS. The manufacturer services them free of charge every couple of years, and I have free checkups each year with the audiologist. If I have a problem, I can book further appointments free of charge.
    I love my hearing aids and wouldn’t be without them.

    My mother became deaf as a young teenager with a hereditary condition that passed down the female line. It missed me out and so far has avoided my girls. I often wonder what Mum would have made of my tiny aids compared to hers.

    1. That is so interesting, SueW. I must investigate further, and talk to the audiologist about hearingaids that charge over night and last 24 hours. That would be better than having to ask for new batteries every six weeks. They always come promptly in the mail, but sometimes I forget to ask for them and have to purchase them from the pharmacy. I also have the app on my phone to reroute phone calls and the television, but I didn’t like using them at all. I can’t even remember why. Maybe too noisy or too intrusive?

      My father got the model issued to older people via Medibank, but he hated using them because he said they distorted his already compromised hearing. We did not know about more sophisticated models. Dad was very adamant that hearing aids were not for him, so we didn’t follow up. I wish we had. The night before he went to hospital where he died he had been listening to an opera, very loud. He loved music, and I think not hearing properly would have been painful for him.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *