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CBC: The Current

CHS in the News

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Listen to the full interview on the CBC: The Current website. Skip to 1:00:13 to listen to the segment.

MATT GALLOWAY: David Owen's new book is called Volume Control: Hearing and A Deafening World. It's one thing to lose your hearing. It's another thing to do anything about it. The Hearing Foundation of Canada says that only one in six people who need hearing aids actually get them. Vandra and Volker Masemann think the time might finally be right for them. Their daughter, Alison, is a producer here at The Current and she recently went with them to the non-profit organization Canadian Hearing Services.


BOB LOOMIS: This is Bob Loomis. I'm Doctor of Audiology with Canadian Hearing Services and I specialise in testing hearing and fitting hearing aids. So you've all ridden here to get tested for a hearing aid. Are you thinking you have enough problem where you're experience difficulty communicating?

VANDRA VOLKER: Well, the final consonants of words, I find it in a restaurant if the music is loud, I find it very difficult to carry on a conversation. Volker and I, we know because we've lived together for what, 54 years? We know that we keep asking each other, what did you say? What did you say?

ALISON MASEMANN: It's not only in noisy situations or phone situations where you have trouble hearing. If you're across the room in a relatively quiet house, you also have trouble hearing. They get frustrated with each other easily and kind of snipe at each other about things and some of that is, I think, because they can't hear what each other is say.

BOB LOOMIS: You have noises in your ears. Correct?

VOLKER MASEMANN: Tinnitus. You know, that's been going on for over five years, but it's very infrequent. I seem to be missing fragments of words sometimes. And I also tend to turn the TV up more than like the kids will say, that's awful loud, you know.

VANDRA VOLKER: I suppose I've come from a fairly negative view about doing all this to a pretty.

BOB LOOMIS: You're in good company.

VANDRA VOLKER: I think I'm beyond ambivalent now. It's clear that the next, say, 20 years would be better off if we solved this issue.

BOB LOOMIS: You hear this a lot. It takes an average of seven years from when a client first identifies themselves as having a problem to actually doing something about it. So you're right on track. Have a seat. I'll be with you in just a sec. OK. Vandra, can you hear me pretty well?


BOB LOOMIS: Good. First, I'd like you to repeat some words back to me. The words will start out fairly easy to hear, but they're going to get very soft. OK.

[Performs hearing test]

BOB LOOMIS: So this is a graph of your brain called an audiogram. Each of these symbols is a different pitched tone that we tested from base to trouble, just like the notes on a piano. You can see for the based middle tones, your hearing is within normal range. But as they get higher in pitch, the hearing drops down below normal. You have what we call a mild to moderate hearing loss.

VANDRA VOLKER: Yeah. Fine. Yeah.

BOB LOOMIS: OK, good. OK. We start out with good hearing in the bass to middle tones. But as the tones get higher in pitch, the hearing does drop down to a little bit more hearing loss. You have what we call a mild to severe hearing loss in both ears. OK. Again, a hearing aid will be help for you. You really do need to wear the hearing aids as much as possible because you learn how to use them faster and you may not realze the things that you're missing when you're not wearing them. There are limitations to the technology. No hearing aid can help you hear perfectly well under noisy conditions. Again, there's always some residual problem, but the hearings are going to do the best they can to help optimise your hearing under those conditions.

MATT GALLOWAY: Vandra and Volker Masemann going to the Canadian Hearing Services Organization. It's a non-profit to learn more about hearing aids. It might not be easy to get the news that hearing aids are needed, but there are some pretty compelling reasons to pay attention to our ears. One is the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline. Natalie Phillips is a psychology professor at Concordia University and Assistant Director of the Canadian Consortium for Neurodegeneration in Aging. Natalie, good morning.

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