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      Why hearing loss doesn’t have to limit you in life

      Although hearing loss can cause loneliness, Doreen’s social life is fuller now than ever. She speaks about her friend Maureen from Action on Hearing Loss and the other social activities that she’s involved in.

      Doreen said: “It’s a good many years ago that I started to lose my hearing. When it started to go I used to lipread, and then one day a lady said to me, “are you lipreading?” and I said “yes”. She said, “You should go and get your hearing done”. And that’s when it started.

      It’s not very nice! I have two hearing aids in at the moment but if I take them out, I either hear a roar or I can hear conversation, but I can’t tell what people are saying. The worst thing is the telephone – I hate the telephone because I can’t hear properly and you have to ask people to repeat themselves; sometimes even then you can’t get what they’re saying.”

      Doreen is visited every two weeks by an Action on Hearing Loss volunteer, Maureen, who volunteers for the charity’s befriending service. The service provides social support to older people with hearing loss who may be feeling lonely or isolated.

      Doreen said: “Before Maureen started visiting me I didn’t see a lot of other people at all. I’ve got one daughter in England and two here – one in Carrick and one in Carnmoney – but they’re both out working. My daughter phones me every day.

      Maureen comes to visit me once a fortnight on a Monday and we just talk, she’s great company. Occasionally we knit together, and she would take me out if I wanted to go anywhere, but most of the time Maureen is a great talker. She tells me all about her family and everything which is very interesting. She makes a joke of it even if it’s serious. She’s a nice lady to talk to. She makes me laugh - she’s really comical at times.

      Maureen understands that I’m deaf; she usually sits across from me and I can talk well to her. It’s been very good from the very first time she came; we seemed to hit it off. She talks to me about my hearing aids, and she tells me that she’s learning sign language. I don’t notice my hearing loss as much anymore, I’m much more confident with my hearing aids in.

      I go on outings sometimes with the fold, and we go on trips to Bangor, somewhere where there’s shops and then we walk about. I’m getting out far more than I ever did. I go to a club every Tuesday with two ladies who I’ve met through the fold and we have lunch there. People get up and dance if they want to; there’s a man who plays the guitar.”

      Maureen said: “Time with others, is time well spent, especially with the older generation – the people I have met through Action on Hearing Loss. They talk of their experiences – it’s a two way process. I learn a lot and I hope they enjoy my company.”

      The Action on Hearing Loss Befriending Service, In Touch, supports isolated older people with hearing loss across Northern Ireland by matching them with a volunteer who visits them once or twice a month. For more information about the service or to become a volunteer, visit www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/northernireland, email information.nireland@hearingloss.org.uk or call 028 9023 9619.