Beck: Good morning Mr. and Mrs. Graves. It is an honor to meet with you both again.
Peter Graves: Thanks Dr. Beck, nice to meet with you again too.
Beck: Mr. Graves, I recall when I met you last year at the Starkey Gala event you had acquired your new hearing aids. I also remember your extremely honest approach, and your telling me you really didnt think you were going to be wearing them very much!
Peter Graves: Thats right. I have just a slight high frequency hearing loss, and that does make it difficult for me in very specific situations, such as cocktail parties, and when speaking with children or women with soft voices. But I really wasnt sure I wanted to bother with hearing aids! I learned somewhere that the average person takes some seven years from their first realization that they have hearing problems, until they actually do something about it.so I thought Id probably wait a little while too!
Beck: Yes, thats pretty typical. Most people dont rush out to get hearing aids as soon as they realize theres a problem, they wait, they procrastinate and they stall, while re-evaluating and thinking about it. Im at a loss to tell you where the seven year delay comes from, but I think its about right. It certainly does take time for people to realize they have a problem, and then to act on it. Usually by the time they get hearing aids, the problem has progressed and everyone around them notices an enormous change once they can again participate actively in conversation and events.
Beck: Mrs. Graves, I wonder if you can tell me, even though Mr. Graves has only a slight hearing loss, do you notice his hearing loss? Does his hearing loss cause a problem for you?
Joan Graves: Oh yes, I can tell he has hearing loss. You know, the typical problems occur in cocktail parties, where he might say to me What did he say? or Peter might look at me and say Huh? Most of the time he does fine when its just him and me, but when the conversation becomes challenging, and when there is background noise, he has more difficulty. He can hear that people are speaking, but the challenge is understanding clearly what theyre saying.
Beck: Thanks for sharing that. One of the things that comes up often in day-to-day clinical practice has to do with the fact that for the person with the hearing impairment, their spouse, or significant other, often becomes their hearing aids in difficult listening situations. Some people with slight or minimal hearing loss think they dont have a hearing problem, because they have a spouse that hears and interprets for them! And in some respects, the spouse becomes the one with the hearing problem! As far as your comment about hearing voices but not hearing clearly, that too, is very common. In general, that complaint, or that observation, occurs because 90 percent of the intelligibility of the English language comes from consonantsand those are the high frequency sounds that you need to hear to identify the words. Unfortunately, most people with hearing loss due to aging (presbycusis) or noise induced hearing loss have high frequency hearing loss. So the bottom line is, the symptom you described (not hearing clearly) is a sign of hearing loss, and that is typically a sign of a high frequency hearing loss, and that is something that hearing aids can manage very nicely!
Beck: If I may, Id like to change the topic a little to the issue of leaf blowers!
Peter Graves: Thats a subject in which Joan took the lead.
Beck: Mrs. Graves, would you please explain your involvement with leaf blowers?
Joan Graves: Sure. Its kind of a fun story. Years ago, in Los Angeles, and in particular where we live in Pacific Palisades, the gardeners and maintenance men used gas powered leaf blowers. Now, were very fortunate and grateful to live in such a beautiful and well manicured part of the world, but I have to tell you, the constant racket of gas powered leaf blowers was really out of handyou could hear them almost every waking minute.
Beck: And you became politically active to silence the gas powered leaf blowers?
Joan Graves: Yes, I did. The noise was terrible and created a terrible racket. But there was more to it than the noise we were listening to, the workers rarely if ever had hearing protection. They were out there working and listening to these very loud machines, and undoubtedly causing hearing loss for themselves. We had quite a fight on our hands, but ultimately a few years ago, I guess it was back in 1998 or so, we won the fight, and now gas powered leaf blowers are banned throughout the whole city of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and I think some 20 other cities in and around Los Angeles.
Peter Graves: The wonderful thing was the raised awareness about noise and noise induced hearing loss throughout the community, and I think the benefit to the community will be terrific. Of course, it also raises the awareness of noise from the airports, motorcycles, lawn mowers, and the more we become aware of noise, the better we can be prepared to protect our ears and our communities from noise.
Beck: Mr. and Mrs. Graves, its a joy to speak with you. Thanks for your advocacy of noise reduction and thanks for sharing your thoughts on hearing loss.