What most people want when considering doing something about their deteriorating hearing, is some honest and frank words of wisdom from someone who has been in their position.
Recently, we have invited several of our clients to write a hearing blog for us on various topics, and Mr Sweet from Westbury on Severn, has taken the time to write about his hearing journey, which includes the hearing aid pros and cons that he has discovered along the way. So, read on for an honest insight into wearing hearing aids, and some good advice about why you should insure your hearing aids!!
I have found using hearing aids an absolute nightmare but also the best thing I have done for some time so I will attempt to write about my experience in the hope that it may help someone.
I accept that everyone is unique and we all have our own ways of dealing with problems. I think it is possible that my hearing had been failing for a long time, but as it was a gradual thing I successfully adapted the way that i dealt with things, and I blustered on through. Suddenly, I realised that I seemed to be getting cross with my wife rather a lot and giving this some thought and discussing the problem with her we decided that we were not communicating well and that it was probably because I was failing to hear what she said to me and/or mishearing something which could lead to complex, sometimes funny consequences. Also our arguments about the volume on the TV fell into place.
So what should we do?
The first thing we tried was to go through the NHS. This appeared satisfactory but after a while I thought that perhaps I could do better if I parted with some money. This was prompted by receiving a mailshot from Amplifon with whom I arranged a hearing test. This turned out to be much the same as the NHS test – I saw the same graph on the monitor. However, the circumstances were more comfortable as I was with my wife in a small office with a nice reception area as opposed to a huge, somewhat daunting hospital premises.
During my visit to Amplifon I had one of my infrequent, wonderful moments. The audiologist lent me a couple of hearing aids which he set up for me, and allowed me to go out into the city to try them out. My moment happened when I opened the door and stepped into the street. A huge cacophony of strange and beautiful sounds filled my head. I heard birds singing and cackling away, motorbikes revving their engines from streets away, children talking and screeching, the list is endless. We went into a cafe and I could hear the hubbub all around me – so some noises were not welcome. Anyway, we went back to the Amplifon office and I ordered my hearing aids. They were duly received and the Audiologist set them up for me at the cost of £2000 which I considered unreal, but I already thought that they were going to transform my life.
Then came the difficult time of getting used to them. I went into the shower two or three times with them still in my ears before I taught myself a routine to make sure I take them out. Then, I was cutting down a tree when I unknowingly knocked one aid out of my ear. After I cleared the tree debris I mowed the lawn. Then I went in for lunch and as I was going out again my wife said; “you only have one hearing aid in”. It took me a couple of hours to find the four bits into which my lawnmower had chopped the hearing aid amongst the grass in the green bins. This was when I realised that the advice the Audiologist had given me to insure the hearing aids was good.
The Broken Hearing Aid!!
The Audiologist at Amplifon was a really personable individual who knew what he was talking about. Sadly, he had recently taken ill and was unable to return to work. The people sent in to cover his absence were not satisfactory to me so I was not sorry when the Insurance Company introduced me to Hearing Wales for my replacement hearing aid. The young lady audiologist I now deal with gives me as much confidence as the Amplifon audiologist did. So you may realise that I believe that you can deal with the best organisation in the world, but if you do not like and/or do not have confidence in the person with whom you are dealing, you will never feel satisfied and comfortable.
Changing Audiologist helped me to learn something new.
At Amplifon my hearing aids were set up on three settings which I could select with the press of a button (these were for close communication, party type situations and Loop systems). This worked but there were some unsatisfactory elements. Danielle from Hearing Wales listened to what I had to say and set my hearing aids up differently. She gave me a volume control which I can turn up or down by a press of the same buttons. This is still not perfect but it is better. Under the old settings it was difficult to know when to change from focusing on individuals to a ‘party’ environment as sometimes a change made little or no difference. On the new settings I find my hearing aids much better 90% of the time but in a ‘party’ situation (I have six grandchildren) the hubbub can be a little overwhelming. If I turn them down I might miss something – but this could be a silly statement as I might miss it any way.
One thing which the Audiologist said which rang true, and I think needs to be considered by everyone with any degree of hearing loss, is that it is known that hearing loss is a contributory factor in the loss of cognitive functions – now I am wearing hearing aids I realise that I was missing a lot when I was ignoring my hearing loss.
It is now nearing two years since I started trying to deal with my hearing loss and how do I feel about the whole experience?
To start with, the bad points
» I find wearing hearing aids a nuisance – I think I will never get used to them (perhaps it is an age thing because I also find my spectacles a nuisance)
» I know that hearing aids are not ‘as good as new’ but I also appreciate that they are much better than being deaf to any extent
» After the experience of ‘ losing’ a hearing aid I am now conscious of needing to decide when it is better not to wear them. (For example when on holiday do I wear them to the beach or leave them at the house? I try not to wear them when I am using noisy machinery or working in an environment where things could poke in my ears.)
» It is surprising how long it takes to put your hearing aids in when necessary
Now, the good points :
» I can now hear the TV at a volume which is acceptable to my wife
» When in the Garden I hear the sounds of the country
» When speaking to anyone I am confident that I actually hear correctly what they say
» After the initial shock of the cost of the hearing aids it seems that ongoing cos»ts are minimal.
So yes – hearing aids are a necessary evil I really do not like going into my silent world.