Hearing loss help
With World Hearing Day set for March 3 Anne Greatbatch of Life Unlimited Hearing Service felt it would be helpful to highlight the difficulties people suffering hearing loss experience and ways the public can help.
The theme for this year is “Don’t Let Hearing Loss Limit You”.
Ex-Tararua mayor Roly Ellis suffers severe hearing loss which has particularly deteriorated in the last three years. Such has been his struggle that he has found himself withdrawing from public life and has resigned from at least four committees. Still wanting to contribute his knowledge and wisdom, he decided to do something about it and contacted Life Unlimited Hearing Service where he has found a great deal of help forthcoming.
With his wife Phillipa, Roly agreed to meet with Anne and together thrash out a list of effects those with hearing loss experience but more importantly the simple things people can do which could help them cope.
Inability to hear conversations especially in a crowd or with background music playing is the major consequence of declining hearing. In meetings people who talk over others are almost impossible to hear and if the conversation takes another direction that accentuates the problem.
Hearing loss increases slowly and imperceptibly and is often not picked up by family, friends, workmates and others. They sometimes make little allowance, even laugh at a misunderstanding, leaving the sufferer to flounder, only partly picking up the gist of conversations and frequently giving up. You notice when they go quiet and withdraw. They become lonely in a crowd. Worse still, precious conversations with grandchildren often whispered in confidence are lost.
TV is a challenge, even with the volume up and good headphones.
The constant effort to hear is exhausting and as the day progresses the capacity to cope decreases.
Technology can be both good and bad. Inability to hear a cellphone ring is compensated for by vibration and people texting. There is even an app for android phones called Live Transcribe which can record a conversation as it is spoken.
Hearing agencies which can provide hearing aids are well worth visiting.
The public can greatly help those suffering hearing loss by:
• Sitting directly in front of them so they can lip read;
• Speak slightly more slowly and clearly (open mouth); note — speaking louder helps but can distort.
• Select 1-1 conversation;
• Do not laugh at a misunderstanding;
• Turn down or turn off background music;
• Only speak when no one else is;
• Stick to a topic;
• Repeat key words
• Listen for accurate responses or some confirmation they have heard correctly;
• Text or message more often because this gives a sense of inclusiveness;
• Encourage sufferers to seek help. Life Unlimited Hearing Service is a free and independent Ministry of Health funded service for all New Zealand citizens and permanent residents aged 16 years and over. It can conduct a hearing evaluation, provide information on hearing aids and other technology like loud phones, offer tips for living with conditions like tinnitus, suggest strategies to help better family communications and make referrals.
In Dannevirke Anne Greatbatch provides this service for Life Unlimited sharing the building at 19 McPhee St with Hearing Support Dannevirke. She can be reached on 0800 008 011 or 021 750 894 or www.lifeunlimited.net.nz.
Both Roly and Phillipa recommend those experiencing hearing loss contact Life Unlimited.
Hearing Support Dannevirke is open from 9am-noon five days a week and can be reached by ringing 06 374 7137.