Hearing loss can have devastating social consequences, sapping the fun out of many parts of life.
For former teacher Aileen Fox, who lives in Nethy Bridge in the Highlands, her gradual hearing loss, which began in her 30s, got so bad she stopped going to her orchestra and couldn’t chat with friends when out cycling, leaving her feeling frustrated and isolated. Even everyday conversations were tricky, and she says her continued hearing loss was a contributory factor in her giving up her primary school teaching job in her 50s.
But after a friend recommended the Edinburgh branch of House of Hearing Aileen invested in the latest tech, which in her words has been ‘quite the revolution’.
Aileen said: “I was tested around age 37 and loss of hearing was diagnosed and was only just accepted into the teaching course. It became extremely difficult in my 40s to hear what an individual child was saying to me whilst there was background noise in the classroom. I also had difficulty hearing instructions, for example if I was in a dance class.”
She said she had to ask family to repeat things often, and lost her confidence in social settings, worried if she was responding appropriately or just guessing.
“I was finding it difficult to go to orchestra because I couldn’t hear the conductor’s instructions.
“Cycling out with friends who like to chat was difficult or really impossible.”
When one-to-one conversations became tricky and she couldn’t hear TV or radio, a friend recommended Stuart Lyness, Senior Audiologist, and the team at House of Hearing in Edinburgh. For Aileen, it has been life-changing.
“It’s like night and day! I am much more confident in social situations. I have gone back to orchestra which I can now enjoy. I can hear the birds and this is of great significance to me and a tremendous joy. I live in the country and couldn’t believe the level of bird sound around me when I put in these hearing aids.
“I like the flexibility of the aids – the different programmes – I have the music one which I use when playing instruments as it deadens the “rougher” sounds a bit but I can still hear speech. I like being able to turn it up and down in the appropriate company.
“I absolutely love the Bluetooth facility and can hold telephone conversations with ease and I use it to listen to radio or iPlayer programmes much of the day. When I wake earlier than my husband in the morning I can listen to the programmes on my iPhone but it doesn’t disturb him.”
Enjoying new things
Aileen is also trying new hobbies, thanks to her hearing aids: “I am learning a new language and would certainly not have tackled this without better hearing, so altogether quite a revolution.”
And she says the hearing aids have helped her feel younger and rediscover the joy she was missing out on.
She added: “Don’t wait. It is the best money I spent in 2021 (along with an e-bike!).
“It makes me sad to see people struggling with hearing loss as it is so unnecessary. It is a shame some people feel self-conscious about wearing aids – well, many of us wear glasses and no-one comments.”
Aileen’s story is a familiar one to audiologist Stuart. He said: “With gradual hearing loss people sometimes don’t appreciate just how much they are missing out on, or what compromises they have had to make over the years.
“Her joy in rediscovering something as simple as birdsong, having the confidence to learn new things and embrace hobbies again is so uplifting; it is lovely to work in an industry where we can help people enjoy life to the full.”
Find out more at www.houseofhearing.co.uk