Senator Rachel Siewert – Mum’s story
My mother has had a hearing impairment for quite a long time although she only got her hearing aids about 12 years ago.
Like many people as they grow older it took some time to work out that Mum had a hearing impairment, we now know that there were tell-tale signs – Mum’s loud voice, the ever increasing volume of the TV, her not answering was not because she was ignoring us. She didn’t really wanting to go to out to social occasions and stopped going to the pictures.
When she did get her aids she was one of those people that persevered with them and they have significantly improved her quality of life. People tend to think that they fix everything, but there are still times when Mum’s hearing impairment results in her exclusion and could threaten her well-being.
Loud venues mean Mum can’t participate so she tends to avoid them, loud music in cafes means we can’t have a conversation, telephones can be an issue, public counters with glass partitions can be difficult. Even in family gatherings around the table if people talk too fast, over each other, mumble and in short hand Mum is basically excluded from the conversation.
Mum’s recent emergency trip to and stay in hospital also reminded me about the impact of her hearing impairment. While the medical staff were great they did not seem to appreciate that given the hospital environment on a number of occasions Mum did not fully hear the questions they asked and therefore couldn’t fully answer some questions when asked about her health, medications etc. On the occasions that this happened when I was there I was able to help, as did my brother when he was there. I’m left wondering about those occasions when we weren’t there and importantly what about people with a more significant hearing impairment than my Mum’s.