Jann Arden involved in campaign to raise awareness of hearing loss

Jann Arden is involved in a campaign to raise awareness of hearing loss.

Jann Arden is involved in a campaign to raise awareness of hearing loss. Christopher Katsarov / THE CANADIAN PRESS

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It’s one of those morbid games of “Would ya rathers.”

Would ya rather lose your hearing, or would ya rather lose your sight?

It’s a difficult one, but Jann Arden knows which way she’d lean.

“I think I’d go blind,” she says. “I don’t know what exactly I could do if I couldn’t hear. I feel like blindness you could figure it out. I don’t know.

“I can’t imagine not hearing music again, I can’t imagine not writing music again, or hearing live music, or hearing a river.”

Luckily Arden won’t have to worry about that any time soon, as she discovered on Thursday.

The beloved Canadian singer was in Toronto taking part in the Stay Connected campaign by Duracell to coincide with May being Speech and Hearing Awareness Month.

As part of it, she had what she thinks is her first hearing test — “I might have had one in elementary school but I don’t remember,” Arden says — and admits beforehand she was “nervous,” and actually almost pulled out at the last minute.

“But I’m very glad to tell you that I’m in the 90 percentile of people that can hear,” she says.

You can imagine her surprise considering that hearing loss is something of a hazard of the music business.

Look, for example at rockers such as The Who’s Pete Townshend and AC/DC’s Brian Johnson, the latter having to quit touring this year or risk going completely deaf.

Granted, Arden’s music is a little less amplified than those, but she does admit that after most of her concerts she has ringing in her ears for a good hour or so and she says she doesn’t know a musician who doesn’t suffer from some kind of damage to their hearing.

But it’s not just musicians, with hearing loss affecting an estimated three million, Canadians with 80 per cent of those not seeking treatment.

And while Arden’s is fine, it doesn’t mean she hasn’t been personally affected by it. Recently she discovered that her mother, who is in her care and afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, had also been suffering from serious hearing loss for what doctors think may have been for the past decade.

“For the last four or five years we all attributed her lack of connection and not really caring if she listened to music or we don’t need to watch a movie or just not participating at meals, talking, we thought it was Alzheimer’s. ‘We thought, ‘It sucks, this disease,’ ” she says.

“And when it finally dawned on us, we should probably get her hearing checked, (there was) 70 per cent loss in each year.”

Her mother now has hearing aids, Arden says and it has made a “huge difference” for her mother and the rest of the family

“It’s really changed the game for her,” she says. “I just feel bad that I didn’t do it 10 years ago, but it didn’t occur to me. It did not occur to me.

“If she was blind or lame or had chest pains I would have had her into the doctor, but hearing was not on my list of things that could be affecting her well-being.”

That’s why Arden got involved in the campaign, which is offering 10,000 free hearing tests to Canadians who call into a hotline.

She’s hoping that the fact that it’s automated and anonymous will help people who are afraid to get tested due to “embarrassment,” not wanting to appear weak, sick or old.

And she’s also hoping that the campaign, and others like it, will help people get over the “stigma” that seems to surround those who do need help with hearing loss, who require a hearing aid of some sort.

Again, it’s not an issue that Arden has to worry about right now, something that now at least she knows.

“I really thought today I was going to get some terrible news, I was prepared for it. I was already picking out the designs for the hearing aid I was going to get,” she says.

“And I was going to hit Duracell up for every damn battery I would ever use.”

For a free hearing test call 1-844-9-Duracell or visit duracell.com/stayconnected to find out more about their initiative.

mibell@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/mrbell_23


Jann Arden involved in campaign to raise awareness of hearing loss

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