Sound of Silence: Dealing with hearing loss 6



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After frequent suggestions from my husband, who was tiring of repeating himself, I went off to one of the local audio clinics for a free test. At the end of it, the young clinician told me I had mild to moderate hearing loss and the best hearing aid for me would cost $13,000.

I now wear hearing aids, at considerably less cost, but I do wish I’d known about Dr Elaine Saunders’ company, Blamey Saunders.

Sounds of Silence is a book about hearing loss and Elaine Saunders’ journey growing up with a father who became increasingly deaf, through years of study on three continents, to becoming Telstra Business Woman of the Year in 2004, for her groundbreaking provision of hearing aids through the internet. Sound of Silence HR

The book is very technical in places, and I confess I did not always follow these parts, but there are warm personal anecdotes, such as describing an early outing with the man who was to become her husband. Several times the book is given over to others as they describe their personal journey with deafness. This is much more engaging than Dr Saunders retelling those stories. The book is written clearly and the structure of the chapters is very straightforward. Her description of the ear and how it works is wonderful and left me marveling at this mechanism we so often take for granted.

Dr Saunders writes of the impact of hearing loss, apart from the obvious one that you just don’t hear as well. Hearing loss can lead to cognitive decline, increased dementia, increased risk of falling and decreased ability to manage chronic illness. An interesting aside was that we hear better with our glasses on. Dr Saunders’ early work was with children and there is a much discussion about education for deaf children.

The sooner hearing loss is diagnosed the better. Dr Saunders writes in several places in the book of the ‘stigma’ of wearing hearing aids and of peoples reluctance to have aids show or admit they wear them. My own audiologist was at pains to point out how closely the colour of my aids matched my hair.

Dr Saunders gives useful strategies for managing background noise. Making noise louder is no solution to hearing impairment.

The history of the hearing aid is entertaining from ear trumpets to bulky battery carriers worn like a back pack. The tiny computers which hearing aid wearers have today are a huge advance.

There is a thoughtful chapter on the difference between hearing and listening.

The business Blamey Saunders provides hearing aids at a much cheaper rate. Hearing can be tested at home and hearing aids adjusted at home through the internet. Dr Saunders believes in the future of tele-health. I tried out their site and ‘chatted’ to Sophie who was able to answer some queries I had from my reading.

The book is also an interesting study in business practice as Dr Blamey and Dr Saunders searched for providers and distributors before starting up their own company. They threw down the challenge to the conventional hearing aid industry that Dr Saunders concluded were not acting in the best interests of consumers.

Regardless of whether you’re interested in Dr Saunders’ company, you owe it to yourself to have your hearing checked if you think you might have a problem.

My thanks to New Holland for the review copy of this book.


Sound of Silence by Elaine Saunders

Available for $23.80 via Booktopia


Tell us, do you have hearing loss? Would you read this book?

Vivienne Beddoe

  1. There’s nothing like it how wonderful to be able to hear when you have been deaf it must be amazing bless all these people l hope they have fun with their families now they can join in the fun

  2. Yes, there are unscrupulous hearing ‘specialists’ around and the ones that say they can test you on the phone are probably the ones to stay away from. A good digital hearing aid properly adjusted to the pattern of your loss can mean leading an active social life and continued employment. And it is true, they are not cheap, but they are a wondering investment in lifestyle! Find a place where you can go back for a refit or readjustment at no cost if the aid doesn’t feel right after a period of adjustment – it does take a while to suddenly be hearing the birds sing and the sound of your own breathing!

  3. As a photographer, I am greatly pleased to retain good vision. I am blessed, too, with exceptional hearing, especially for an elderly male (a rare ability to perceive tones up to 12K!). Despite this, I sometimes think it a greater blessing to have good hearing than sight, although each is an important sense to retain.
    Your review intrigues me, Vivienne, to such an extent I’m off to see Tim, my bookman, on the morrow!

  4. Oh Vivienne, what timing your review has! I have been thru the same thing over the past 7 days (husband and all!) I told them that there was no way I needed “wireless connectivity between the two aids” but the next one down was still about $8000! I had already made an appointment with a recommended ENT specialist and after he checked me out his recommendation was that there were about 2 tones that I was missing. His advice was that IF i wanted to explore hearing aids then all i would need would be basic and that Costco should be considered. Relevant enough to me to get this book!!!! thank you for the review!

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