Voiceover: Around half of people over 60 have some hearing loss, with noise becoming distorted rather like this (muffled crowd sound). It can be a bewildering experience. Jadjivan is in his late 60’s is losing his hearing. After years of suffering the embarrassment of not being able to listen to his grandchildren or join in conversations he’s decided to visit our clinic.
Dr Christian: So, how long have you had a hearing problem for?
Jadjivan: 8 or 9 years.
Dr Christian: 8 or 9 years. And it gradually got worse and worse?
Dr Christian: Yeah? And tell me how bad your hearing is then.
Jadjivan: My hearing is very bad.
Dr Christian: You seem fine now.
Jadjivan: I can hear if there is nobody in the room and the radio is not on and the television is not on then I can hear you. But when the children are at home and the family, when we are around the dining table and they are talking, when they are a bit further away I have to ask them ‘what did you say? What is the joke about? Why are you all laughing?’. And it’s embarrassing for me all the time to ask them ‘can you repeat yourself?’.
Dr Christian: I think what we’ll do is refer you to a hearing specialist. Would you be happy with that?
Jadjivan: Oh yes, I would be very happy.
Dr Christian: Deafness can be really isolating but technology has improved so I’m confident we are going to find something that is going to work for Jadjivan.
Voiceover: Jadjivan has presbycucsis, or age related hearing loss caused by the destruction of microscopic hair cells in the inner ear which capture sound frequencies. There are 2 main causes of deafness, noise and age, and they are connected. You can’t stop aging but you can make sure you protect your ears from loud noise. Turn it down or wear ear defenders. Accompanied by his wife, Jagjivan visits the hearing clinic in London. After checking Jagjivan’s eardrums and canal, specialist Paul Checkley conducts a detailed hearing test.
Mr Checkley: You’re going to hear some beeps coming through the headphones. Every time you hear one of those beeps I want you to press the button.
Voiceover: Mr Checkley has discovered that Jagjivan’s hearing loss isn’t universal. He can hear some sounds clearly but others sounds he can barely detect. So when he’s in crowded places all he hears is a mass of noise.
Mr Checkley: Now the reason for that, if we overlay the phoneme’s of speech, when we move into the high frequency of sounds like C, Ch and Sh, Sss, those sorts of sounds, because they’re high frequency you’re not hearing those clearly.
Voiceover: There’s no cure for this type of hearing loss but with the help of a state of the art digital hearing aid which goes over the ear rather than in it, confusing background noise will automatically be filtered out for him. Jagjivan is back at the hearing specialist to try on his state of the art digital hearing aid for the first time.
Dr Checkley: Wow, first time. Excellent, that’s it. That’s great.
Voiceover: Specialist Paul Checkley has a machine that replicates the sound of a crowded room.
Paul Checkley: And what you’ll find is when you get into that sort of environment to begin with, things will all sound quite loud for you. Now, these hearing aids have a special setting. They will recognise that you’re in this environment and they will reduce things a little bit. Noticeably you’re still picking me up quite clearly even though this is actually a very difficult environment that we’re sitting in.
Voiceover: First impressions are good but the real test will be how Jagjivan copes with them in his everyday life. 2 months later he’s back to give Dr Christian his verdict.
Dr Christian: So Jagjivan, you’ve got 2 new hearing aids. Are they working well for you?
Jagjivan: Very well, I can hear quite a number of people nearby me. I can hear the conversation and taking part as well. I do not have to say ‘what did you say? I beg your pardon’.
Dr Christian: So at the dining table, with the family…
Jagjivan: I can hear everybody clearly. Even with the television I do not have to put it loud. My Mrs doesn’t shout that it’s too loud. In fact I have to tell her stop.
Dr Christian: Don’t shout any more, she forgets. Did you expect them to be as good as this?
Dr Christian: And you’re happy with the looks, they’re easy to use, they’re easy to maintain?
Dr Christian: Perfect. Well, what more would you want? Nice to see you again, Jagjivan. Thanks for coming back.
Around half of all people aged over sixty experience distorted hearing, which can often lead to feelings of humiliation and isolation. Dr Christian refers a patient with age related hearing loss to a specialist who arranges for a super intelligent selective hearing device to be fitted.
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