House-hunting with hearing loss
I remember with great fondness finding our current house and falling in love with it: the high ceilings, the period features and how it spread, leisurely over four stories. When we started looking for a new home last year, there was an added dimension I needed to consider when house-hunting: my hearing loss.
As anyone with significant hearing loss and hearing aids will know, background noise can sometimes be a problem. Thanks to my hearing aids, I am able to communicate with other people but the way I perceive sound is different from before and some background noises I find difficult to process, which in turn makes me feel sometimes tired, and sometimes irritable.
So what do I look for in a hearing loss-friendly home?
Location, location, location
I love watching those house-hunting TV shows. Usually they have a presenter telling the couple how important it is to find ‘the right location.’ As far as I can tell, this usually means close to amenities and good schools – but for me the ‘right’ location means no traffic noise, no babbling brook and not being in the flight path of an airport.
During our quest for the ideal home, we arrived for one viewing, only to discover that there was a raging river at the bottom of the garden. I was immediately put off; not from any risk of flooding, but because the sound was just so annoyingly ever-present, and I couldn’t tune it out.
Another house was surrounded by very tall trees and the rustling of the leaves, which my husband finds therapeutic, but drove me to distraction within five minutes of being in the garden.
I was quickly coming to realise that for me, the ideal house was going to have to be fairly secluded and possibly surrounded by fields!
‘Open plan living’ sounds lovely to me in an abstract kind of way but, in reality, having too much space for sound to bounce around is far from ideal for a homeowner with hearing loss.
I’m no expert in acoustics, but I do know from experience that environments with lower ceilings and thick carpets and curtains make for a more comfortable listening environment than high ceilings, large spaces and lots of hard surfaces. So, I kept that in mind when looking at houses. For my hearing loss-friendly home, I wanted small to medium-sized rooms and nothing open-plan.
For many people, when it comes to moving house, it’s often a case of the bigger the better; but for those of us with hearing loss – and the people who live with us – big is not necessarily beautiful.
There’s only so far a shout will carry, and who wants to be yelling at each other across your entire home anyway? I figured that a compact layout would be more beneficial to communication than a sprawling house.
Perhaps we needed to find a cottage?
After two days of visiting a range of country cottages, we found the perfect one – high on a hill, no passing traffic, no trees and no running water. The rooms were neither too big nor too small and the view was stunning. I still need to pinch myself to check that I’m not dreaming because, I’m delighted to say, we’re moving there in a few weeks’ time!
Do you have any other tips for finding a hearing loss-friendly home? I’d love to read them in the comments below!