Dickie Rock, the legendary showband singer, realised he was losing his hearing.
“I knew I had to do something about it, before it got any worse,’’ says Rock, 75. “My wife pointed it out first, I kept putting the television on too loud. Instead of it being at level 6, I would have it at 10 or 11.
“It can become a terrible problem. People can feel isolated, I didn’t because it wasn’t too bad, but it can also be very annoying for someone who is talking to you and you can’t hear them.’’
Determined to resolve the situation, Rock went to his local Hidden Hearing, in Terenure, Dublin. He had a free hearing test and was recommended to wear hearing aids.
“I was actually delighted to get the diagnosis. I think you have to look after your health, if there is a problem you do something about it,’’ he says.
Around 35%of people over the age of 65 have significant hearing loss problems. Like Rock’s situation, it is often family and friends who are the first to notice that there is a problem.
In most cases hearing loss is gradual and can go unnoticed until it is very pronounced. If it is left untreated, people can feel frustrated, lonely, depressed, isolated and will begin to withdraw from social activities and events.
The classic warning signs that there may be a problem are if people are having difficulties following a conversation, asking others to continually repeat themselves and turning up the television.
Rock believes his hearing loss is down to his lengthy musical career. “Forty years of listening to pounding guitars, drums, saxophones and basses, can’t have helped,’’ he says, laughing.
With his hearing aids, Rock can now hear properly and stresses how discreet, easy to use and comfortable to wear today’s devices are.
“You wouldn’t even know they were there. I can hear absolutely everything that is going on now, and if I turn them up a bit higher I can hear what the people are saying on the next table too,’’ he says.
“But sometimes I do enjoy taking them out. They are very handy on an aeroplane if there is a big gang of kids, then I can take them out and I don’t hear a thing. Also if my wife is talking to me and I don’t want to hear it, then they are handy too,’’ he says.
Rock’s advice to anyone suffering from hearing loss is to go to a reputable company that also has a good after-care service. He still has his hearing tested regularly, and to date it has not got any worse.
“More and more people are being affected by hearing loss. Younger people are having problems too, unfortunately, because of listening to their music too loudly. They are probably inviting trouble for the future.
“So don’t be embarrassed, get tested and get a hearing aid. It makes your whole life much more comfortable and also for the people around you too,’’ he adds.
¦ Dickie Rock will play at the Cork Opera House on September 9, 2012 www.hiddenhearing.ie