My dad’s hearing: loss and gain

Dad’s hearing loss was an issue for two to three years before he sought hearing aids. The day after he was fitted with hearing aids he told me, “I keep asking myself, why didn’t I do this sooner?”

Life before hearing aids

I knew something was wrong when Dad began conversing differently. At first, our family couldn’t figure out what the problem was. I began to worry that Dad was showing signs of cognitive decline. He often took large pauses before responding to questions. Sometimes, he wouldn’t respond to me at all.

After a while, it became obvious that Dad’s behaviour was the result of hearing loss. But he rarely acknowledged that he couldn’t hear. He just did his best to piece together fragments of what he’d heard, but he was clearly missing a lot of conversation. When there was noise in a room, he would cup his hands behind his ears in an attempt to zoom in on conversations, and he started using headphones to listen to the TV.

Recently, we had breakfast at a small cafe and Dad elected to eat breakfast outside on his own because the background noise inside made it too hard for him to socialise.

Overcoming reluctance

My partner Eliza was the first to identify that Dad might benefit from hearing aids. Dad had doubts about the effectiveness of hearing aids because of the mixed experiences of his parents. Their experience had been influenced by the limitations of hearing technology at the time, and also by the fact that their hearing loss was very severe as a result of time served during World War 2.

My partner Eliza and I work at Blamey Saunders hears. We spoke to Mum and Dad about Blamey Saunders hearing aids and how adaptable they are. We convinced Dad to take the online Speech Perception Test, which generated a report that identified the areas in which he was having trouble hearing. Eliza explained that many clients with a similar hearing loss have had very positive results with the hearing aids.

When I arrived home, Dad called to ask, “When can you book me in?”

Life after hearing aids

After the clinic session, we took my parents out to dinner at a noisy restaurant on Sydney road. Dad could hear everything we said, even without watching us speak. The following day, we were watching cricket on TV and he could hear all the commentary, even with the volume at a low level.

One of Dad’s longest standing hobbies is electric guitars. Yesterday we visited a guitar shop in Collingwood so he could try out playing while wearing his hearing aids. He noted some changes. For example, he could make out the sound of the pick striking the strings, but all the musicality of the instrument was still present with the hearing aids. Now he never wants to take them out!

I should mention that Dad still works as a solicitor from his home in Forster, New South Wales. One of his hearing goals is to more easily understand his softly-spoken clients. I’ll be keen to find out what sort of improvements he experiences when he goes back to work…

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