I first met Alan in 2002, he was 75 and had purchased his first hearing aid from another supplier a few years previously. He accepted he was getting older and in addition to his hearing problem his sight was not as good as it used to be. He thought it wise to stop driving and with this in mind he wanted someone closer to home to look after his hearing needs.
Alan spent his working life in the insurance industry, working in clients homes and office environments. He had not worked in noise at any time.
Over the years Alan has had a number of strokes, these have affected his fine detail dexterity and his ability to write or hold a pen. He has been diagnosed with Advanced Macular Degeneration (AMD) which affects his ability to read, but also prevents him from changing the batteries or routine maintenance of his hearing aids.
Alan is a widower, he lives alone and tries to be as independent as possible. His enjoyment comes from watching television and listening to commentary on his beloved Manchester City on BBC Radio Manchester. He has a number of friends who visit him regularly and of late he has started to attend a seniors day care centre once a week, which is a great source of pleasure for him, but he does find it incredibly challenging and frustrating.
During his latest hearing assessment we discovered Alan's hearing had deteriorated. He now has a severe to profound Sensory Neural Hearing Loss - he was no longer able to hear normal conversation without the assistance of hearing aids. It was established from his Speech in Noise test that he needed a Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) improvement of over 15 decibels (dB). This basically means that the sound of speech he is listening to needs to be 15dB above the background noise.
With all his health issues I needed to select a system that would allow Alan to use and maintain it himself as long as he is able. I obviously had to consider his hearing ability but also his failing eyesight and his dexterity issues.
Alan was fitted with a pair of Siemens Binax 7 behind the ear instruments with rechargeable batteries using the Siemens eCharger. As Alan was unable to see fine detail such as the conventional red and blue markings that define right and left hearing aids it was decided to fit him with one beige aid and one silver aid. One last detail I employed was to modify his ear moulds.
Most ear moulds for use with behind the ear hearing instruments are fitted with a standard tube. A once popular but now almost forgotten method of ear mould tubing is the Libby Horn. Originally developed as a method of improving high frequency sounds before the advent of digital hearing aids, it has the advantage of providing a sound hole 3-4 times the size of conventional earmould tube. The size of this aperture allows Alan, despite his dexterity problems to provide some form of basic maintenance in terms of keeping the aids clean. The effect this small action has on his self confidence and independence has been remarkable.
Alan says that his new Binax system is "much clearer than his previous aids". He now finds TV and radio easier to understand but it is in his social situation he notices the biggest improvement. While he still has to concentrate he can now understand people either side of him at the day centre. He is enjoying his time there and can look forward to "his Wednesdays".