Is your hearing sloightly on th’huh? We have launched a campaign across East Anglia to encourage people over the age of 55 to have their hearing tested and it could be life changing.
The campaign is being backed by popular broadcaster, author and expert on Suffolk dialect Charlie Haylock following research which shows that untreated age-related hearing loss is a possible indicator and modifiable risk factor for mental decline, impairment, and dementia.
The new work by scientists in Ireland and the United States is important because of it examined data from 20,264 participants in 36 studies and found a small but significant association between hearing loss and a loss of cognitive (mental) function compared with the population as a whole.
Charlie Haylock who will appear at a number of the company’s events this summer and at our special 20th anniversary celebration later in the year and will talk about his own experiences of hearing loss; “My life really has changed in a positive way since I had my hearing checked and had hearing aids fitted. That’s why I’m so keen to be involved in the campaign to get other people to have their hearing tested regularly."
“I was amazed at the difference to my life once my new hearing aids were fitted” he says.
“I can hear the birds singing and the clock ticking and I don’t have to pretend having a conversation, hoping I’m nodding and smiling in the right places”.
Charlie explains: “Before I got my hearing aids, and I was asked a question, I knew I had answered with a silly answer when people started laughing. The answer I had given had nothing to do with the question asked, and I used to feel rather embarrassed to say the least. That no longer happens. And I only realised that the radio and TV were turned up high because often, people would come in and turn it down.”
Managing Director and Audiologist, Karen Finch points out that important as it is to hear the birds or the clock ticking, untreated hearing loss can have a much more sinister effect. Advancing years and long exposure to everyday noises, often mean that our ears are less sensitive and unable to hear certain sound frequencies, particularly if there is background noise.
She continued: “Initially our brain fills in the gaps, but over time even this isn’t enough and we find it hard to understand what is being said in noisy environments, particularly in social settings like a pub, or busy restaurant. In an attempt to avoid the sort of embarrassment experienced by Charlie when he was in conversation, some people simply stop going out with family and friends; this can lead to social isolation and that, in turn, can cause depression or other health issues.”
Charlie agrees that socialising was a problem for him. “If there was a crowd of people, then the background noise was just a loud, mumbling sound, and trying to have a conversation with that background noise was nigh on impossible, and I used to make my way to the side of the room or to a corner,” he says, “and when giving my talks and lectures, I used to have someone at the front, telling me what questions the audience had asked, especially from the back.”
However, it was while on holiday in Ireland that Charlie finally realised he needed to do something about his problem. “I was walking along the cliff tops with a small group of people when and all of a sudden I noticed they had all looked up. They had all heard the cry of a peregrine falcon which I had missed completely. It was at that moment, I really did know that I had to get my hearing checked,” he says.
“Two months later, after having my hearing checked and wearing my new hearing aids from The Hearing Care Centre, I was out walking in Clare, in Suffolk when I had heard a mewing sound. I looked up knowing it was a buzzard; and I was right. Not only did I hear it, but could work out the direction from which it was flying. At the time I remember thinking, ‘These hearing aids are spot on!’
“When I give talks I no longer need someone to repeat the questions, as I can hear clearly, and in fact, I now repeat the question so people at the front know what was asked. In fact I haven’t gone a day without wearing my hearing aids since I got them. I put them in immediately after my morning shower and take them out last thing at night before going to bed.”
“My life really has changed and is why I’m so keen to be involved in the campaign to get people to have their hearing tested regularly.”