Learning from mom, a hearing aid user

But one must remember that amplified sound is vital for the hearing impaired to remain part of mainstream life.

You are concerned about everyone else’s hearing but your own mother’s” was the oft-repeated accusation at home as I had not taken any steps to alleviate mother’s difficulties with her hearing. Giving in, I brought home several different models of hearing aids for trial. Following a selection session (hearing aids are not to be purchased over the counter) we zeroed in on a model and placed it behind her right ear that had better hearing than the left. “Buy cucumbers.” It was mother calling out to us from the interior of the house on hearing the vendor on the street several metres away.

Among the benefits of her hearing aid use was her ability to carry on a conversation when her granddaughter called from abroad. Pleased with our success we soon got her a hearing aid for the left ear as well. Mother found that the individual hearing aids placed behind their respective ears helped her hear better. It seemed that despite the hearing loss that was age-related, mother’s ears were sensitive to changes we had not anticipated: She objected when the hearing aids were interchanged between the two ears, preferring the earlier placements; she was also less satisfied when recharged batteries were used instead of fresh ones. So out went the battery charger and the recharged cell.

Periodic ENT consultation is a step to be followed by hearing aid users. Pulling out the accumulated wax from mother’s ears, the doctor commented, “How can she hear with so much wax in her ears?” Obviously her visit had been unduly delayed. Hearing aids also had to be checked and serviced periodically by a competent person. I enlisted help from Achala and Reuben, both audiologists who had hands-on experience with hearing aids.

Mother looked forward to their visits when they would check whether the hearing aid accessories such as the tubing and earmolds/eartips needed to be replaced. I brought home for ready reference several pamphlets we had prepared for the benefit of hearing aid users. But seen from the other side of the table, the ‘excellent’ pamphlets were found wanting and had to be revised. Clearly, there was a lot that a professional could learn from a hearing aid user. Hearing aids are expensive. Maintenance may be cumbersome. But one must remember that amplified sound is vital for the hearing impaired to remain part of mainstream life.

Email: dr_s_nikam@yahoo.com

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The New Indian Express