May 2018 Joondalup Times News
The joy at hearing his grandchildren’s chatter and returning to easy conversations with his wife has seen John Holsgrove become an advocate for cochlear implants. The 66-year-old psychologist from Kingsley said because of his job, he was “well aware” that dementia became a higher risk if people were not able to hear well or at all. Recent research has identified hearing loss can contribute to dementia and cognitive decline, particularly in adults over the age of 55. “This risk factor isn’t something people are generally aware of but you’re cut off socially when you’re not hearing and that has a great affect on your health,” Mr Holsgrove said. “There’s a history of dementia and Alzheimer’s on my side of the family so I wanted to make sure I was doing everything I could to not go down that path.”
John Holsgrove with grandchildren Alyssa 8, Amy and Callum.
Mr Holsgrove was 55 when his wife first mentioned some concerns about his hearing.
“I first thought it was criticism for not listening,” he joked. “I didn’t really believe there was much wrong with my hearing but eventually I thought to keep her happy I’ll go and get tested. “Sure enough, I did have a hearing impairment that needed hearing aids.” However, he soon found the combination of his rapidly deteriorating hearing loss and his job as a child psychologist dealing with small high frequency voices wasn’t an ideal mix.
In 2015 his hearing loss was at a level that he qualified for a cochlear implant and he met with Ear Science Institute Australia director Marcus Atlas to schedule in the surgery. “Suddenly, I was connected again and most importantly, my wife and I could have conversations again,” he said.
“Talking with my family and hearing what my grandkids were saying was a very emotional experience for me.”
Ear Science Institute Australia chief executive Sandra Bellekom said Mr Holsgrove’s experience was a good example of how much a cochlear implant can improve a person’s life. “John was able to converse with his loved ones and return to much of his life as he knew it before his hearing loss and was also aware of the positive impact that regaining his hearing could have on his future mental health.” Last year, Mr Holsgrove had a second successful surgery for a cochlear implant in his other ear. He is now an advocate for the surgery, telling people who are battling hearing loss to seriously consider the social and health risks of not doing anything at all. “Being able to have conversations is so fundamental to your essential relationships,” he said. “Cochlear implants are a little miracle to me because I’m re-engaged with the world.”