Coping with hearing loss a challenge for former mayor
6 March 2018 – Former Tararua District mayor Roly Ellis talked to Christine McKay from Hawkes Bay Today about how he has been affected by hearing loss, and how a workshop delivered by hearing therapist Anne Greatbatch has helped.
“I would highly encourage and recommend anyone with hearing problems to go to the hearing workshops,” former Tararua District mayor Mr Ellis said.
He said Ms Greatbatch had twice helped him find the right person to solve his hearing problems.
“The first time, some 10 years ago, I was probably a reasonably normal case, although I had lost most of my hearing in one ear while serving in tanks in the British Army. Hearing aids did help, but about three years ago, my hearing became substantially worse.” Mr Ellis had grommets in his good ear for six years, but after continuing infections he realised another term as Tararua District mayor was untenable as he struggled to hear at meetings, conferences and social events.
“Medical problems in both ears continued so much so that hearing aids became a nuisance,” he said.
“If you cannot hear you cannot make proper decisions around the table, and with such a fast moving job as district mayor, it was necessary to hand over the reins.” Mr Ellis said he’d had hearing problems since birth and more recently had found it quite debilitating.
“You cannot have a conversation in crowds or with background noise, and people who do not have this unseen problem find it difficult to understand what you go through,” he said.
“I attended a workshop at the Hub in Dannevirke 10 days ago and was amazed how hearing aids and systems had progressed. Anne [Greatbatch] had already booked me in to the original audiologist and a visit last week has certainly made me realise that with modern technology I can be helped again. I am off for a fitting this week.”
The key message behind hearing awareness week, which runs until March 9, is that it’s never too early to start looking after your hearing. And Ms Greatbatch couldn’t agree more.
“When people experience hearing loss they can feel quite isolated,” she said.
Hearing is quite complex, Ms Greatbatch said, and young farmers – who often worked in noisy environments – did not tend to have hearing checks.
“But if they were in other industries, such as construction, they will have had a hearing check earlier in life,” she said. “That baseline information is very helpful because you will know if there’s a change and people need to be informed.” Ms Greatbatch said anyone can make an appointment to have a free check, even if they do not have an issue yet.
Mr Ellis said he understood the frustration of those around people suffering hearing loss.
“Out there in the rural, contracting and industrial world there are many men driving their wives mad with hearing loss. “There is no shame in being deaf, so do something about it,” he said.
Categories: My independence, My wellbeing, New to disability?
Tags: hearing loss, Hearing Therapy