We've all encountered someone with a bad case of selective hearing

Connect Hearing GeraldtonSponsored
Your partners inattention may not actually be their fault.
Camera IconYour partners inattention may not actually be their fault. Credit: Getty Image

Whatever your circumstances or stage in life, there’s a good chance that at some point or another you’ve encountered selective hearing.

You know the type we’re talking about – where ‘would you like a drink?’ gets an enthusiastic response, but ‘can you take the bins out?’ falls on deaf ears.

In relationships, friendships and family settings, selective hearing can be a source of serious humour and frustration. Bills may go unpaid, shopping lists incomplete, and people can be left feeling a little unloved. But it’s not always intentional – sometimes what’s perceived as selective hearing can be a sign of something a little more serious.

Audiometry student and longtime hearing aid wearer Renae Farrington of Connect Hearing Geraldton said at times, what may come across as inattention was actually an indicator of hearing loss.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


“’Selective hearing’ could be hearing loss masquerading as inattention,” she said.

“When you have hearing loss, some sounds can be easier to understand than others, and you get into kind of a habit of listening and responding to the sounds you can hear, or even the situations that you can hear in and switch off a little bit when things get trickier.

“Also, when you have hearing loss it can be hard to separate sound signals – for example, if the TV is on and my husband is talking, I can’t hear either of them with any kind of clarity!

“My brain tries to switch one off to hear the other, often with limited success.”

While there may be signs that things are off, it often takes quite a while for people to seek out help and treatment. Ms Farrington who uses a receiver in canal hearing aid herself, said on average it took a person with hearing loss seven to 10 years to take action and seek treatment.

“Some people are worried because hearing loss and hearing aids have a strong connection to ageing, and a lot of people have a fear of ageing or being seen as old,” she said.

“In practice it couldn’t be more different. I get to speak a lot with people who have age-related hearing loss, and they find it makes them feel less ‘old’ wearing hearing aids than having to ask ‘what?’ all the time when they can’t hear, or feeling isolated in social situations.”

Contrary to the way it’s perceived by some, Ms Farrington said hearing loss came in all shapes, ages and sizes. So do treatments, with advancements in hearing aid technology meaning price points and aid visuals can differ greatly from what people may think.

The benefits of clear hearing can be quite intimate, with certain romantic flow-on effects often reported as well.

“I saw a poster once that said ‘one in three hearing aid users believe that their love lives have improved since having their hearing loss treated’,” Ms Farrington said.

“I’m a little too shy to comment on my personal experience in that area…”

Relationships with the kids and grandkids can improve as well, while hearing is critical to both people-facing industries and those where safety is paramount.

Best of all, a free 15-minute hearing test has the potential to help settle once and for all that age-old issue of selective hearing – get it right and you may never miss bin day again.

Connect Hearing is Geraldton’s trusted name in hearing aids and hearing loss prevention. With a friendly team of local staff ready and waiting to help you, there’s no better place to get your hearing checked. Visit the website for more information or drop in and speak with staff at 119 Cathedral Avenue.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails