Lois Muir

Hearing aids: All about your quality of life

“You only come by this way once in life, so I always ask myself ‘am I making the most of today’s opportunities’ — this is why hearing aids have been good for me. They have maximised my ordinary opportunities. They are about the quality of my life.”

Now in her 80s, Dame Lois Muir admits she lives a ‘crazy busy life’ full of people and events. When she answers the phone, she has only just arrived home from the gym where, she says, her personal trainer worked her hard in the January heat. And prior to that she had put in a 10-till-2 working day at a local Dunedin pharmacy.

“I didn’t think that I needed hearing aids,” she comments.

“But as you go on in life and get older, you lose a little bit of things. Your mind thinks everything is the same, but unnoticed and gradually you lose an edge.

Dame Lois’ work at the pharmacy, a five-day a week job, was her catalyst to have a hearing test.

“My son tells me that I hear fine when a person is directly in front of me. I suppose I focus better on what is being said or I could be lip-reading, but I definitely need to concentrate. I have difficulty hearing people clearly from the side or behind.

“But at the pharmacy, even when people were directly in front of me I had to lean in closer to hear. There is a lot of background noise; the radio is always on and people are talking. It was difficult to hear names when people came in to collect prescriptions.

“I realised it was time to lift my standard of hearing,” she says.

Dame Lois says she has known people with hearing problems who gradually excluded themselves from life. But this was not going to be her choice.

So with talking to customers at the pharmacy, netball conferences and social events to attend, family to enjoy, houses to renovate and gardens to keep in order, she made an appointment at Audiology South.

And what a difference that decision has made to her quality of life, she says.

“These hearing aids have restored sounds that I didn’t even know I had lost, and they’ve opened a door to sounds that I’ve never heard before. Gosh, I never knew that birdsong could be so intricate.

“When they were first fitted, I could hear all the rattles in my car, so I accused my audiologist, Anthony Rowcroft, of being in cahoots with motor mechanics!

“But the real beauty is that I can hear people! I am a people person and genuinely enjoy the opportunity to be more involved with those around me. It has been a heck of a boost to my quality of life being able to hear what is said, and be part of it.

“I’d gradually lost the edge of hearing in noisy places; you need to have fine hearing to do that. With these hearing aids I’ve been to restaurants and social gatherings and hear far better, all around me, it is a tremendous benefit.

Dame Lois says that people may be daunted by the prospect of hearing aids. “I think it can be a major embarrassment, but really they just help us live our lives fuller,” she says.

“Anthony Rowcroft at Audiology South knows how difficult the first step can be, but nothing is ever a bother for him and he makes the process easy and non-threatening.

“I’m happy I made the step. Hearing aids have opened up so many possibilities for me and I’m excited about them. They are so small that no one knows I’ve got them in. And they are cute! They’ve added fun to my life,” Dame Lois says.

Last September Dame Lois was presented with an International Netball Federation service award, at the Quad Series in Invercargill. You can learn more about the award at http://netball.org/archives/8915

You can also learn more about Dame Lois’ netball career at http://www.netballnz.co.nz/our-game/our-netball-heroes