25 Jan 2013

For Seniors Week 2012, Hearing Link Tasmania provided two days of hearing screenings and individualised information sessions for senior Tasmanians. Our screening audiometrists were busy on each of the days and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet, screen and, if needed, refer people for extra care. Seniors Week is organised by COTA TAS each year and schedules a multitude of activities across the state that are designed to inform, connect and interest older people no matter where they live.

During our Seniors Week Free Hearing Screening Day we saw a number of couples. The story of – let’s call them – Thelma and Fred is typical of the circumstances that affect hundreds of couples throughout Tasmania every day.

Thelma and Fred both came to our centre for a hearing screening. Thelma was sure that Fred was losing his hearing, but mostly she couldn’t stand how loud the television was and having to constantly repeat herself. She was ready to give up on talking to Fred. Thelma and Fred’s story highlights the frustration and strain experienced by both parties when hearing loss impacts on understanding speech.

Fred’s hearing screening showed significant damage to his hearing in the high frequencies. These frequencies are predominately where the consonants of speech are placed. While he can hear sounds in low frequencies, that is the vowel sounds, his hearing loss means that he is unable to distinguish between or even hear “p” or “t” for example. The utterances “Do you want some tea?” and “Do you want some peas?” sound essentially the same to Fred. If there is no context or visual cues then needless to say confusion abounds. Here’s an audiogram chart that shows speech sounds:


When you become aware of the extent of your hearing loss, there are many simple tools that will minimise misunderstanding and lower household frustrations. For our fact sheet on Communication Tips click here.

About the Author