Deaf by 30?

Posted by Living Sounds

The new realities for hearing loss.

My mother used to harp on me all the time, “You’re going to be deaf before you’re 30!” I can still hear her. I figure I did pretty well, making it into my 50s before I had issues.

My grandfather had this metal box about 6 inches square, maybe a couple inches deep, that he would wear around his neck. It had a curling wire running out of it to a big, I can only guess uncomfortable, ear bud-like thing. It was horrible. I can’t imagine the quality of sound was great, but it was what was available. He’d worked in a sawmill and he was deaf as a post, though I never really connected his job with his hearing loss until I started looking at my own hearing health.

I had no idea. Which is part of the reason I decided to partner with Living Sounds Hearing Centre to talk about hearing loss. I’ve been learning more and more as I’ve gone through the process of being treated and I regret not having my hearing checked sooner. I know there are a lot of men and women out there that are going through the same things as me, that aren’t getting treated. I know how easy it is to think it’s not really a big deal because you’ve gotten so used to not hearing certain things that you forget what it’s like to hear them.

Just the other day, I stopped to grab a coffee in the morning. When I walked out of the shop I noticed a couple of ladies having a conversation across the parking lot, maybe 50 metres away. I don’t know if I normally would have even noticed them, but I did that morning. I thought, I can hear them! I never would have heard that before, the frequency of female voices, because that’s where my hearing loss is.

There are all these little things that make such a big difference to your life, it’s so hard to describe. Before I started wearing hearing aids I never heard the floors creak or the birds outside. I had been missing so much and didn’t even realize it.

1 in 8 people are suffering hearing loss – that’s a World Health Organization statistic. That means over 4 million people in Canada – 125,000 in the greater Edmonton area. And yet only 1 million people in Canada are treated for hearing loss. What does that mean? Only 25% of people with hearing loss are actually dealing with it? And the rest aren’t? That’s just crazy. Especially now that I understand that it really is so easy and it makes such a huge difference.

We all think you have to be old to be hard of hearing but we don’t. One of many interesting things I learned at the Third Ear course offered through Living Sounds Hearing is that 30 is the new 60 in terms of hearing loss. With all of the noise that younger generations are dealing with, they can expect that hearing loss will happen earlier. It just makes sense. A concert from my youth didn’t have a fraction of the sound power of today’s live music events. Of course we are also recognizing, more and more, the things that cause hearing damage, like my grandfather’s job at the mill. Over half of all hearing loss is preventable. It’s worksite noise and hobbies and lifestyle.

The bottom line is no matter how you end up with hearing loss, you should be dealing with it. I can’t stress enough how much of a difference it actually makes. I don’t know why people don’t deal with their hearing issues because I don’t know why I didn’t, but I think if people understood that it really does make such a huge difference they would get treatment.

It really was easy. People never know I’m wearing my hearing aids, but the difference to me is so significant. You miss something, you might think it’s insignificant, but it’s not.

I wish I’d done it sooner, I’m glad I’m dealing with it now.

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