Life is sounding sweet for Saanich resident

Saanich woman receives free hearing aids as part of national campaign

Audiologist Bob Quelch checks the new hearing aids provided to Lorraine Sam at the Hearing Life Canada clinic in Saanich Plaza.

A long forgotten world is reopening for Saanich’s Lorraine Sam, and it’s never sounded better.

Sam received a free set of hearing aids earlier this month as part of the National Campaign for Better Hearing.

“It’s wonderful. When you can’t hear anything, you feel insecure,” said Sam, who now marvels at the sounds of birds chirping and frogs croaking. “It’s the most wonderful thing that’s ever happened to me.”

Sam had been suffering with hearing loss for several years, the result of a slow deterioration in her hearing.

“That’s the big problem, you get used to it,” said Bob Quelch, audiologist and regional manager with Hearing Life Canada.

Sam received her new hearing aids as part of the National Campaign for Better Hearing. That campaign provides free hearing tests for everyone over the age of 60, while also contributing $4 for every test conducted into a fund that provides hearing aids for those who can’t afford them.

“The purpose of it is to make people aware of the importance of hearing health care. Hearing health care is currently seeing a lot of new research,” said Quelch, adding that hearing loss can result in anxiety, depression and other social problems.

“We now know how important your hearing is in terms of your overall health.”

Sam said the thing she missed most was being able to take part in a conversation with friends.

“You feel left out. [My friend] was talking and I couldn’t hear her.”

Quelch said with hearing loss, like with many things, you don’t realize what you’re missing until it’s gone.

“As time goes by and we lose our hearing little by little, we start to use tricks [to know what words are being spoken],” said Quelch, who uses hearing aids himself.

He said the gradual nature of most hearing loss means many people don’t realize they’re losing their hearing. And the longer you wait, the harder it becomes to adapt to hearing aids.

Quelch says it’s important for people to be aware of their hearing, and recommends everyone have an audiogram done so they know their baseline hearing. He said many medications can have an effect on hearing, and recent studies have shown a link between hearing loss and dementia.

“Older adults, when they aren’t hearing, they really just retreat. It just becomes devastating,” said Quelch.

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