Maggie shares about her mother Eve’s experience of hearing loss and how they addressed it together as a family.
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Showing the signs
My mum and I are very close. She is now in her mid 80s and for the last seven years I’ve been taking her away on European holidays as birthday gifts. I think at my mum’s age having quality time and gaining experiences is much nicer than having things.
In 2016 I took my mum to Paris and that’s when I started to notice that she couldn’t always hear me when I was speaking. It was quite frustrating for me as I felt as though I was constantly repeating myself. My mum then kept saying “oh speak to me on the other side” and to be honest from that point I’d got into a habit of always speaking to her on that side. Which was good as I wasn’t repeating myself as much.
Fast forward to 2020, my mum and I booked a trip to visit my brother in New Zealand. Before we went to visit my brother, I had a few conversations with him and said mum’s hearing seems to be going and thought she could be going deaf in one ear. I told him to not get frustrated if she wasn’t able to hear everything he was saying. The trip to New Zealand went well but it was on the trip my brother and I realised the extent of our mum’s hearing loss.
Checking Mum’s hearing
My brother and I decided mum needed to get a hearing check and we agreed to speak to her together on a zoom call. To be fair when we suggested getting a hearing check mum was open to it, as she knew we had her best interests at heart.
The hearing test was arranged by my mum’s GP. The results show that mum wasn’t just losing her hearing in one ear, but she’d lost a significant amount of hearing in both ears. The results were a real shock as none of us had anticipated mum having significant hearing loss in both ears.
Hearing and health
When I joined RNID I learnt so much about hearing and the link to dementia, so I told Mum to try and wear her hearing aids as it’s better for her health.
Overall, since my mum has had her hearing aids our conversations are easier, and I rarely need to repeat myself. I do think that if my brother and I never spoke to her about getting a hearing check, she would have just lived with it. So, it shows how important it is to have those conversations even if it is just to rule it out.
Mum now advocates for hearing aids and is often telling her friends to get a hearing check. She understands the importance of being able to hear in not only social environments but also outside on busy roads.
Addressing my hearing loss
Before Covid-19 I spoke to my doctor, as I was concerned that I had some hearing loss in my right ear. At the time, my doctor said I had nothing to worry about so nothing was done.
As the years went on, I started getting a preference to which side I liked people to speak to me on. My daughter Maggie did get frustrated at times because she’d often have to repeat herself if she spoke to me towards my right ear.
After a visit to see my son in New Zealand, Maggie and her brother asked me to get a hearing check as they both noticed I would confuse words and could not hear that well.
Taking the hearing check
I did the RNID hearing check, which was easy. After that I went for a hearing check at the GP and the results really surprised me. I did not think it would say I had significant hearing loss in both of my ears. We went into lockdown, so my hearing aids were sent out to me in the post. It took a while to figure out how to use them but, once they were in place, it was strange being able to hear the littlest things. I remember saying to Maggie “I can hear the grass moving as I am walking across it.” On the other side, I found birdsong deafening.
After lockdown, I went to a hearing aid clinic. They did a hearing check and fitted new hearing aids. My new hearing aids are far better and really work well for me. I do still struggle in busy places like pubs because there is so much background noise, so I just remove my hearing aids.
Hearing the difference
Since having hearing aids, I no longer struggle with dialects, can hear the tenors singing and no longer confuse words.
My advice to anyone putting off a hearing check would be – as someone with hearing loss I became reliant on lip reading. This limited my interactions with people. People do not second guess wearing glasses, so what is the difference between getting a hearing check and wearing a hearing aid?
If, after a check, it says you have hearing loss, a hearing aid will allow you to get back to having easy interactions with people. It will also allow you to hear things you did not realise you had missed. For me it was hearing the grass move as you walked across it.”