Peninsula resources for hearing impaired

Post image for Raegene Castle advocates for those who are experiencing hearing loss

Raegene Castle hears everything clearly when she attends Nativity Church in Menlo Park, thanks to the fact that there is a hearing loop in the sanctuary. “Loops are common in Europe,” she said, “I just wish they were more common here.

About 20 years ago, Raegene attended a New Year’s Eve party and got what she thought was the flu. Instead she had meningitis, became comatose, and was in the ICU for 10 days. “The antibiotics they gave me saved my life,” she explained. “But a side effect was profound hearing loss.  I’m totally deaf in one ear and partially deaf in the other.”

Today, she laughingly calls herself “the Device Queen,” in reference to all the hearing assisted technology she’s tried over the years. She’s also become very involved with the Peninsula chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America which hosts a monthly meeting in the Community Room of the Redwood City Main Library (1044 Middlefield Rd.) the first Monday of every month (except July and August) from 10:30 to 11:30 am.

On the first Wednesday of the month (except January, July and August), the chapter hosts the “Rocky Stone Hearing Device Exhibit at 10:30 am. Note: Rocky was a former CIA agent who was profoundly deaf and founded HLAA; more online.

“Through a grant from the Danforth Foundation, we’re able to have a lot of the devices on hand for people to try out,” she explained.  “There are also knowledgeable volunteers on hand to explain and demonstrate the devices. All are welcome and it’s free.”

According to Raegene, attending one of these monthly meet-ups is a first good step for someone who is experiencing hearing loss and deciding what steps to take. The other, she says, is going to an audiologist and getting a hearing test.

“There is a lot of misconception about hearing loss,” she said. “Nearly 25 percent of those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent of those who are 75 and older have disabling hearing loss.

“Sadly, most people won’t stay with their hearing aid. People should work up to how long they wear it, striving for all day. But it’s a process. You need to go back and keep getting it adjusted — so you can hear!”

Photo by Robb Most (c) 2018

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