Hearing in focus this month

Since February, Jack Cameron has been living in a world he hasn’t enjoyed for years—one with pitch perfect sound.
“If I wasn’t still working, I wouldn’t have noticed it,” he said yesterday while visiting Lori Germain, local hearing instrument dispenser with the Canadian Hearing Society, to get a new ear piece for his hearing aid.
“I probably wouldn’t have come in—you really don’t think you need it,” added Cameron, a consultant with Absolute Training and former principal at Fort Frances High School.
“I was having a real problem hearing our clients. And dealing with First Nations like we do, many speak softly in the first place,” he noted.
Cameron said the pair of hearing aids he got were easy to adapt to. “We just put them in and I walked out of here,” referring to Germain’s office at the Northwestern Health Unit here.
“The first thing I noticed is the train. The first morning I had my hearing aids, I heard the train whistle, and didn’t realize I hadn’t heard it in so long,” he recalled.
Now, he wears them everywhere, keeping fit around town or while on the road from Marathon to The Pas with Absolute Training. “The only place I haven’t worn them yet is golfing. Of course, I haven’t got out there yet this year,” he smiled.
Germain said the biggest problem with hearing problems isn’t correcting them—it’s getting people with them to recognize when they have one.
“With your vision, you can tell that you can’t see, things are blurry,” she remarked. “Because hearing is invisible, and the ear and its parts are very small, it’s hard to detect.
“How do you know if that’s the way you’ve heard things all the time?” she added.
Germain noted signs of hearing loss range from the obvious, like having the TV too loud, to social avoidance, which unfortunately can sometimes be misinterpreted as dementia in the elderly.
Perhaps the best way to ensure your hearing is healthy is to get a check-up with an audiologist, such as Brenda Tullio at the Northwestern Health Unit.
“And hearing loss isn’t a problem of the elderly—it only seems that way because people wait until their old until they get hearing aids,” said Germain.
And vanity shouldn’t stand in the way, either, as many of the new models of hearing aids are very small.
Both Cameron and Germain said awareness of hearing problems is increasing all the time.
“Hearing loss is big, especially with the all the industry around here,” said Germain. “Now, we have a lot of people on worker’s comp and war veterans coming in and finding out they have some hearing loss.”
“It’s amazing how many cases there’s been in the past where a learning disability in a child was actually hearing related,” noted Cameron, who also deals with early childhood education in his consulting work.
“Teachers and parents were so used to saying, ‘What, are you deaf?’ And it turns out, that sometimes was the case,” he added.
May is Speech and Hearing Awareness Month. For more info on the Canadian Hearing Society and hearing aids, call Germain at 274-4224 or check out www.chs.ca