Did You Hear That?

Mom was getting older, and really needed to do something about her ears. We’d drop subtle hints like, “Hey, Mom! Do you have anything other than a hearing aid on your Christmas wish list?”

It was causing problems.  She’d have a conversation with me, then report it to my brother who would get upset with me over what I’d said.  Likewise, mom would report to me what my brother had said, and I’d be mad at him.  Finally we realized what was happening.  We started phoning one another, “Mom said you told her…”  then we’d roll our eyes, laugh, then give the real scoop.  Belatedly, we realized that any time mom claimed, “Your brother/sister said…” whatever mom thought she heard probably wasn’t exactly accurate.  Although she’d get the basic topic right, it was important to double-check with one another on the details.

Finally, exasperated during one of her visits, I got out the yellow pages and started phoning around to get an estimate.  Most people refused to talk numbers over the phone, but one well-known company was happy to inform me that their hearing aids started at only $3,000 each.  “How much???!!!!” I gasped.  “Never mind.  We’ll keep yelling at her.”

A few months later we discovered that Costco has an audiology department, and we ended up paying $2,000 for a pair of hearing aids.

That was a few years ago.  Her ears are worse.  Now mom keeps missing phone calls because she doesn’t hear her telephone ring.  She’s late to events because she can’t hear her alarm clock go off.

My brother solved the problem – for a lot less money than a new set of hearing aids.  The android app store has a free hearing test.  It can be used quickly and much more easily than arranging another trip to the audiologist.  Bro simply attached a headset and played different tones until our mom said, “I can hear that.”  When she said, “Oh, I hear that one in both ears!” he knew he had a winner.

Noting the frequency/pitch, he transferred that information to Audacity, a freeware program on his desktop computer.  The program includes a tone generator, and he was able to create separate sounds so our mom knows whether an alarm is going off or her phone is ringing.  She no longer misses phone calls and ringing alarms.

Once set up, the entire process of testing, generating distinct tones, and installing them on her phone took less than fifteen minutes.

If you have aging parents (or aging ears), something for you to consider.

Still recuperating – this post written and scheduled in advance.


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