Staffordshire search and rescue volunteer is making a noise about hearing loss
Post on 31st January 2024
A Hednesford resident is looking to make a noise about hearing loss and encourage people to get their hearing checked regularly.
Dawn Hopley, 56, who is a dedicated volunteer for the Staffordshire Search & Rescue Team (SSART), discovered a new lease of life after years of frustration from experiencing hearing loss. But thanks to a recommendation from one of her colleagues on the team, she went to Scrivens Opticians & Hearing Care on Upper Brook Street, for a free hearing screening – and hasn’t looked back.
Dawn’s hearing issues started in her twenties when surgery affected the hearing in her left ear. Over the years, her right ear over compensated for the hearing loss and due to the stress placed on it, her hearing in that ear has also started to deteriorate.
She said: “I have always lived a full and very sociable life, but in recent years I found myself struggling at group events and parties. I did all I could to avoid such occasions as they left me feeling stressed and full of anxiety because I struggled to hear conversations.
“Hearing loss often happens gradually over time as we get older, which is what happened to me with my good ear, so I hadn’t clocked that my change in behaviour was down to that. It wasn’t until I got an ear infection and went completely deaf, which was incredibly frightening and disorientating, that I thought I really need to do something about this. Thankfully a friend recommended Scrivens and the experience has changed my life – for the better. The difference is so huge that I have hearing in both ears now, not just the one.”
Dawn opted for digital hearing aids that she can control through an app on her smartphone for different environments. One such environment is the work she does, as one of 60 volunteers, for SSART. Funded entirely through donations, this highly skilled group of dedicated volunteers carry out missing person searches in urban and rural lowland areas in the Staffordshire area.
“I have been involved for more than 16 years and am now a Search Manager, but still go out on the ground on occasional searches. I’ve always enjoyed being part of SSART – it’s a huge part of my life – but with my ‘new’ hearing I am getting more out of it because communication with my fellow volunteers is so much easier,” explained Dawn.
Also, for Dawn the emotion of being able to hear with such clarity has been one of her biggest surprises: “I attended a wedding in the summer, and I usually dread these types of occasions, but I had such a lovely time thanks to my hearing aids and was overcome with emotion. And recently on a training mission with SSART the sound of raindrops on the autumn leaves brought a tear to my eye. You can’t beat the sound of nature!”
Now Dawn is urging local people to listen up and make sure they don’t suffer in silence by going for regular hearing checks.
Dawn’s story is not uncommon, a recent OnePoll survey commissioned by Scrivens Opticians & Hearing Care of 1,000 over 60-year-olds, revealed that more than a quarter (34 per cent) admitted to having moderate or severe hearing loss and not being able to manage basic tasks such as having a phone conversation.
Almost half of those with hearing problems (49 per cent) said it had developed between the age of 51-65. And a similar number said the first sign they experienced of hearing loss was having to ask people to repeat themselves. Almost one in three, 29 per cent, had been accused of selective hearing by a loved one.
Scrivens audiologist, Stuart Spencer, who tested Dawn’s hearing and prescribed the solution, said: “Dawn’s experience is not unusual, and it is so rewarding to see the difference hearing aids can make to someone’s quality of life. Communication is vital, and we want to make sure everyone can confidently express themselves – no matter their age or hearing ability. You shouldn’t have to miss a moment just because you might struggle with your hearing.
“Better hearing can improve your personal relationships, reduce stress, increase your motivation and improve your overall peace of mind.
“The fact so many older people are impacted by their hearing is something we want to help with and rectify. That’s why we would urge anyone over 50, or who is concerned about their hearing, to book a free hearing check.”
The most common signs of age related hearing loss are:
- Finding it difficult to keep up with a conversation
- Mishearing what others are saying
- Regularly asking people to repeat themselves
- Family and friends complaining that the TV or radio is too loud
- Feeling tired or stressed due to having to concentrate to hear what people say
- Finding it difficult to hear people over the phone
- Avoiding social occasions and noisy environments because you can’t hear what people are saying
Scrivens recommends an annual hearing health check for anyone over 50 and every two years for anyone over 40 to identify any changes and see what action is needed. They provide a range of private hearing aids as well as being a provider of NHS hearing aids which are free of charge to those who are eligible. Alternatively, as a first step people can take the Scrivens online hearing test.