Monday, 20 July 2015
Over the past few years I have had more understanding and empathy for people who wear hearing aids. This is because my husband, daughter and niece have all started to wear hearing aids and it is not an understatement to say that hearing aids really have transformed each of their lives.
My husband has had high frequency hearing loss since he was a child but has coped really well with it, until the last ten years when it became more apparent that he has been struggling to hear in social situations in which there is background noise and also when he was operating in theatre (during which staff wear face masks). So two years ago he relented and started to wear hearing aids. Although they took a while to adjust to, he now admits that he would not be without them.
My daughter has only had hearing loss over the past year but was really missing out in so many ways, especially in games lessons, drama group and music lessons. Her concentration and involvement with others have improved dramatically since she has worn her hearing aids.
However, despite these hugely positive effects of wearing hearing aids, my husband and daughter hate wearing them and are still adjusting to them. When one of my other daughters started wearing glasses it was easy – her friends admired them and commented favourably about them. Wearing hearing aids still carries stigma.
I was not surprised to read a recent report from the Royal Voluntary Service which stated that around 500,000 people over 75 years in the UK refuse to tell close family they are experiencing hearing loss. Only one in six people said that they would consider a hearing aid, as they do not like the look of them.
I am not sure what the answer is but there really needs to be fewer stigmas associated with hearing loss and hearing aids – it is not just elderly people that benefit from hearing aids. We should have a lower threshold for talking to our patients about any problems with hearing that they may be experiencing.