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      Befriending: Patricia's story

      Patricia, from Newtownabbey, lost her hearing suddenly two years ago. She joined the Action on Hearing Loss Befriending scheme in 2017 and is visted by Melissa, a volunteer, every two weeks. Patricia recently had an operation to have a cochlear implant and has already noticed significant improvements in her hearing.

      What was it like when you lost your hearing?

      It was terrible, I couldn’t hear a thing - it was miserable. It’s hard to make out what people are saying when you’re deaf but it’s an experience too. You wonder what makes it happen. I was lonely and I couldn’t go out - nobody wants to know you. I didn’t see anybody and didn’t go out at all.

      Melissa, our volunteer, visits you – how has this helped you?

      Melissa’s very nice. She visits me every second Friday and teaches me basic sign language. I would do anything to see her, I love her, she’s company. I don’t have any other company; I don’t see anyone at all in the week. I really appreciate seeing Melissa - she’s a friendly girl and she talks to me. We talk about family, things like that. It’s hard when a person doesn’t understand that you’re deaf - you’re cut off from everything. Melissa understands - it’s made a difference.

      Tell me about the cochlear implant – has it made a difference?

      It’s made a whole lot of difference - no more writing everything down. I’m getting used to it but my hearing gets better every day. They say it’s about a year until it settles in. I can hear about half of what’s said now - before I couldn’t hear anything. I go to a cookery club – we do different things in it - I’d lost all my confidence before but having the cochlear implant has lifted me, I’m talking to people more. I had to wait two years for the operation – it was a long time to wait - I was scared at the beginning but I’m glad I did it.
      Melissa used to have to write everything down for me, I was fed up of people writing. Now I can hear better so I don’t need the notepads. My son is visiting me in May, he’s delighted for me too. It’s made a difference.

      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