Matilda and her father, John, share how their family approached conversations around John’s hearing loss, and the great outcomes it led to.
If you’re unsure how to start this conversation, explore our support page on how to talk about hearing loss with a loved one.
Showing the signs
For years, my dad, John struggled with hearing issues but was in denial, which at times was more frustrating for us than for him. During our noisy Christmas gatherings, dad struggled to keep up with conversations. He’d slip away to read a book in solitude, seeking refuge from the overwhelming noise. His isolation grew because he couldn’t fully engage in or enjoy social activities.
Dad’s journey with hearing loss
My dad worked in a power station for most of his life. Back then there was no awareness to protect your ears. They had one pair of ear defenders for a group of 50, so if you were the first one in, you grabbed them. I think my dad was resentful knowing that his working environment contributed to his hearing loss, and he didn’t want to accept that.
In 2015 my dad had his first hearing check, which resulted in him needing hearing aids. He hated them because everything sounded too loud, which was worse than not having a hearing aid.
As a family we encouraged Dad to revisit his hearing loss, as we could see he was struggling. We would also point out others with hearing aids to dispel the notion that they were a sign of old age, as this was something he had initially worried about.
He took RNID’s free online hearing check, before booking a full hearing check which confirmed his hearing loss. He opted for a digital hearing aid. This time, he received thorough explanations of how it worked and how to adjust its settings. In hindsight, without our encouragement, I doubt he would have taken this step and would have continued to struggle.
My dad now proudly wears his hearing aid. During a recent visit to a noisy restaurant, I worried about his ability to hear, but he quickly adjusted his hearing aid settings using an app on his phone. Dad turned to us and said, ‘phew! I’ve just changed the settings so now I can’t hear the ladies behind, but I can hear you instead’. He was so smug at his recently acquired skills and keen to show us what he’d done.
Since embracing his hearing aid, he hears and experiences more of the world. Dad enjoys listening to the birds, walks with the dogs, and frequently stops to chat with people, which is something he had stopped doing. Now, Dad is always encouraging people to get their hearing checked and advocates passionately for protecting your hearing.
Combatting my hearing loss
Before I had my hearing aids I did not look forward to Christmas as I found gatherings very isolating. I couldn’t follow conversations, especially with lots of competing noise, so I’d go to a quiet place to read by myself.
With my first hearing aid, I was not given information about acclimatising to it. I remember walking outside after having them fitted and being overwhelmed by the noise! They were difficult to use, and I eventually stopped wearing them.
A few years passed, and I was still struggling with my hearing. One of my favourite things to do is walking my dogs, and during walks I’d stop to chat to people. But because of my hearing loss, I actively started avoiding people because I was embarrassed that I couldn’t hear them.
Trying hearing aids again
My family noticed my increasing isolation and encouraged me to take the RNID hearing check and give hearing aids another try, and I’m so glad they did!
My new hearing aids allow me to socialise and enjoy family gatherings. I can easily change the settings using my smart phone and they’re so comfortable I forget I’m wearing them.”