People who are experiencing a loss of hearing can get plenty of help and support — if they seek it out.
“You’re only as deaf as you want to be. There’s help out there for you,” said Sharon Stone, a member of Summerland’s Quest Society.
She said those who are noticing a loss of hearing should go to get their hearing tested and then acquire hearing aids.
Stone’s hearing loss began when she was in her early 30s.
“It’s been deteriorating ever since then,” she said.
Today, she has tonal loss. While she cannot hear high tones, she is able to hear lower tones.
Hearing aids have helped, but she still needs to cope with hearing loss each day.
Stone urges those who are losing their hearing to get tested and get hearing aids.
While hearing aids are expensive, she said there are sometimes grants available for those who need them. Even without grant funding, she said hearing aids are an important purchase.
“Tell your kids you want them for Christmas,” she said. “If you really want them, you can find the money for them.”
For those who do not want to be seen wearing hearing aids, there are some in-ear models on the market.
Stone has found other ways to cope with hearing loss.
She will let people know she has a hard time hearing so they will speak up.
“Tell people you can’t hear them. Ask them to speak up,” she said.
For other communication, she prefers to use the Internet and e-mail.
When she is out at a public event, she often takes a seat in the front row so she is able to hear the speaker.
Centre Stage Theatre in Summerland, the South Okanagan Events Centre and the Cleland Community Theatre in Penticton all have hearing enhancement units for those who need them.
At Centre Stage, those who need hearing enhancement should book in advance so staff can get the system ready and the units charged.
In other facilities, such as churches, Stone urges those with hearing difficulties to let those in charge know about their condition.
At retail stores, she said she is often finding clerks and staff who have hearing difficulties and are able to communicate with her.
“There are more and more people with hearing loss in the system,” she said.