Behaviour changes and hearing loss

Gertrude and Harold have been married for 39 years, well versed in the usual marital expressions of thick and thin, good times and bad, better and worse. Over the past 8 years, Gertrude’s hearing loss has brought a new dimension to their life together which to Harold meant that all was well with the world.

The changes weren't sudden. Looking back, there were small things that should have been clues. Harold thought that Gertrude had finally learned to accept that his habit of whistling was part of his character, something she had always viewed as a puzzle that needed to be solved.

“I don’t know why I whistle,” he’d always explained. “I just always have.” And Gertrude had always mentioned it. He’d stop, but then as soon as he was happy in his own thoughts, he would start up again. Although his habit had always irritated her, it was something she mentioned less and less until finally it didn't seem to bother her at all. It was as though they had finally come to accept each other, and had fallen into synchronized step.

Harold also noticed that Gertrude had stopped spending as much time on the phone, solving the town’s troubles with her friends. She'd always loved a bit of news that would warm her ears, blush her cheeks and her eyes would light up with every new revelation. These days her friends didn’t seem to call as much. She had caused her share of trouble over the years, and her version of conversations was often skewed in an odd direction. Things always had a way of working themselves out, but not without the occasional look of bewilderment on her face that was hard to place.

These days Gertrude seemed most content to stay at home. She spent more time there, puttering about the house with the TV blaring, so that she could hear it in every room she said. He’d find her quietly reading her books, or knitting who knows what. She’d always loved going out to restaurants, but lately she said that she didn’t like all the fuss of going out and wanted to stay home. He liked to think that she was content with all of these changes, but he also watched her slowly withdraw. She wasn’t the same Gertrude that he’d shared all those years with.

It was Gertrude who saved the hearing aid brochure that came in the mail and asked Harold to come with her to the office for her hearing test. The results of the hearing test showed that Gertrude had been coping with profound hearing loss. The hearing aid practitioner fit Gertrude with new hearing aids that were remarkably small, and unnoticeable even with her shorter hair. It was a solution that Harold hadn’t even considered to a problem that he wasn’t even quite aware she had struggled with.

The new hearing aids brought a smile to her face that Harold hadn’t seen in a long time. The conversation in the car on the way home was unlike one they’d had in many months. It started with, “Harold, could you stop whistling?”

Harold and Gertrude are not a real couple, but their story represents some of the effects of hearing loss and some of the feedback we receive from our clients. Age related hearing loss can have a significant impact on the quality of life for seniors. Hearing aids have been shown to alleviate depression and social isolation, and keep people active and engaged in their communities. Have you noticed behaviour changes in a loved one? Hearing may be a factor. Book a hearing test appointment at a Beltone Hearing Care Centre near you to take the first step toward better hearing.