Connect Hearing audiologist Jason recently sat down with We’re All Ears to answer a few questions about hearing loss!
Do you find being a Connect Hearing audiologist to be a rewarding job?
It’s very rewarding. When I was at university, at my first practical placement, a lady was being fitted with a free hearing device through a donation. She had never had a hearing aid before, as she couldn’t afford it. And she burst into tears when they turned it on. Happy tears. And I sat there and I thought, this is what we’re doing – helping people.
To give clients back the sound they have been missing is an incredible experience. You can see the joy and happiness in people’s faces. Somebody is finally listening to them. It’s definitely rewarding.
What is one of the most important aspects of your job?
Audiologists talk a lot throughout the day, because the most important thing is working out what a person is like, and what is going to be their best solution. It’s not a one size fits all with everybody.
Counselling the client is part of our job as well. It’s not just the test, and then fitting the hearing aid. It’s about working through the rehabilitation process and making sure the client understands what’s happening.
Is it usually the partner of the person with a hearing loss that notices it first?
Generally. Because hearing is something that changes very slowly, the person with hearing loss doesn’t actually notice their hearing’s not as good as it used to be. They acclimatise to it very well. The partner is the one who deals with the TV getting louder and louder. They’re the ones who have to ask three times, and they get their questions answered incorrectly. So they’re the ones that generally prompt the partner with hearing loss to come in.
We do encourage a lot of people to bring a loved one in, whether it’s a daughter, son, husband or wife. When you’re told you have a hearing loss for the first time and you weren’t aware of it, it can be pretty daunting. It’s always good to have a familiar person present.
Can you tell me of any success stories that stand out in your mind?
It’s just great to have people come back every 12 months and just catch up on how they’re going.
A lot of people come and see us because one of their kids is getting married, for example, and they want to be able to hear well at the reception. And it’s great to talk to those people six or 12 months down the line, and to hear they had a wonderful time, that they could participate a lot more.
A gentleman last week said he is able to talk to his son again, and they’ve been able to go back to their regular Sunday beer. Everyone has lots of little success stories, but it’s more just the new lease on life people get.
What about the isolation people face when they experience hearing loss? Can you tell me about that?
That’s the big one. If you’re used to going out and enjoying yourself, but you can’t hear well…you tend not to go out at all. I’d rather people do something about it and be able to go out there and have fun. As I tell my clients – you’re able to hear so go out and enjoy yourself!
If you’re isolated at home or you feel left out in social situations, it can lead to depression. That’s something we do look at. No one wants a family member sitting around the table just nodding because they can’t hear and laughing when everyone else laughs. They end up being the butt of the joke. Understandably, they get very upset about that.
So why don’t more people consider hearing aids an option? Why do they struggle without seeking help?
You hear it a lot – people say, “I’ll wait until I’m having a lot of difficulty; I’ll wait until I’m really struggling before I do anything about it.”
The thing is – if you wait five years before being fitted, that’s five years worth of not hearing well. It’s like saying, “I’ll move up to a big TV in five years when they get a bit cheaper.” You’re sitting there watching a little TV for five years, when you could of gone out, invested, and had a great five years watching a great TV.
You might as well enjoy your hearing while you’ve got it. The earlier you’re fitted, the more you hear, and the better you hear.
Do hearing aids have a negative effect at all on the hearing you do have left?
If you’re hearing is going to change, it’s going to change anyway, whether you wear devices or not. So hearing aids don’t add to the loss if it’s there. If it’s progressive loss, it’s going to change. But at least we can adjust the hearing aids to suit that loss if it changes.
Are you seeing younger people now?
We are seeing more people come in who do have a hearing loss a little bit early in life. Younger people are becoming more aware of their hearing. They’re researching hearing loss and finding out that there are things that can be done to help them. Hearing aids are still associated with ageing, and that’s something we’re aware of. But they are starting to lose a little bit of that stigma.
I think the age of people coming in is going to become much lower. Noise is one thing that does cause a hearing loss, and at the moment we’ve got a lot of loud music that could potentially cause problems for this younger generation. They will probably be coming in to talk to us a bit more.
Do you think hearing aids like the Lyric are helping attract a younger demographic?
Yes, the Lyric is definitely getting the younger age group in. Hearing aids are no longer big and chunky. Lyric is a long-term hearing device, so it’s placed deeply into your ear and it’s there for about three months. No battery changes, no maintenance. You can do everything you normally do with it. It is perfect for that younger age group, as no one needs to know you’re wearing a hearing device. I recently fitted a 33 year old man with Lyric as a trial and he loves it!