Former B.C. TV news anchor suffers from hearing loss

Tony Parsons is speaking out about the importance of getting your hearing checked

Hearing the crisp drive of a well-struck golf ball or the sound of freshly cut grass softly crunching beneath your feet, these are just some of the things he’d been missing.

Tony Parsons, the former TV news anchor welcomed into homes around the province for decades, suffers from hearing loss.

“The chirping of the birds in the morning, running water, grass under my feet, all things that were then peripheral and I sort of was in denial as so many people are at my age,” Parsons said. “My excuse was, especially with my wife was that you mumble, and I don’t understand that.”

For possibly the past ten years, Parsons went undiagnosed with his condition and it wasn’t until he was approached by NexGen Hearing clinics to be their spokesperson that his life changed.

“I said ‘yes’, but my suggestion to them was that I don’t know anything about hearing loss because I have perfect hearing so how can I help you if I don’t know what I am talking about,” he explained.

“So, they suggested I take a hearing test and I did. I went to NexGen in Kelowna and Colin VanBergen, who is an audiologist, gave me a test and we discovered much to my dismay that I did have hearing loss, especially in the right ear.”

Audiologist Colin VanBergen said Parsons suffers from significant high-frequency hearing loss in one ear.

“High-frequency hearing loss means he is still hearing a lot of sounds that we might hear but there is a lot of sounds that he is missing — he might not hear birds chirping or blowing of a whistle.”

While low-frequency hearing loss means it is difficult to hear frequencies that are deeper or low-pitched sounds.

“When we are talking about speech information and people’s ability to understand what others are saying we have some of the speech sounds in the low frequencies, such as the vowel sounds, the ‘M’, the ‘B’, the ‘R’,” explained VanBergen.

Parsons was tested and fitted for hearing aids, something he had previously thought he did not need.

“The one thing about having the hearing aids is my wife doesn’t mumble anymore, it’s become a bit of a joke,” he laughed.

While Parsons wears glasses and regularly gets his eyes checked, he didn’t believe his hearing was something he should also look into.

“With hearing you become used to the idea that things are getting quieter and not quite as understandable because it’s a gradual process. So I think if you have any hint of a hearing loss you should go get it looked at. It doesn’t mean you are going to end up wearing hearing aids like me,” he said.

Besides the obvious dangers around hearing loss, such as not hearing a car honking to let you know its coming, or an ambulance siren so you can get out of the way, VanBergen says there are other factors too.

From depression after withdrawing from social situations as people are unable to participate due to hearing loss, to the emotional toll it can take on someone who is unable to communicate with loved ones.

“The big one, however, is dementia,” he said. “People who have mild to severe hearing loss are at an increased risk of dementia anywhere from two to five times. The research right now is a correlational study because we can’t say the hearing loss is causing dementia but we can say they are strongly associated.”

Hearing aids have also progressed in recent year; the hearing aids that Parsons wears took 10 years to develop and the company who produces it spent more than $100 million on designing the processes, which VanBergen says makes the technology incredible.

The one downside to hearing aids for Parsons is that his dog Morley enjoys it much more as a chew toy than its actual purpose.

“It’s because of the odour of the wax in your ear that the dog loves, because it’s your odour, and he just thought it was fun to chew it up.”

Hearing tests are free at NexGen clinics and take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to perform. For those wanting to test the hearing at home an online test is available at nexgenhearing.com and can determine if a professional consultation might benefit you.

Read more about Parsons’ story here.

Just Posted

Walker completes trek from Argentina to Alaska

Holly “Cargo” Harrison reached his destination in June, after encountering many generous people along the way

USW hosts BC Federation of Labour at Mount Polley picket line

As it enters into the fourth week of its strike the union will be visited by its executive and Irene Lazinger

Conservation officers relocate two grizzlies away from Bella Coola

Officers worried the bears would become reliant on human food sources

B.C. turns up the heat

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for most the province due to high temperatures

PHOTO: Many hands make light work

Rose Pinchbeck pitches in at the Dry Grad Parade

VIDEO: Stampede warm-up action with barrel racing this weekend

BCBRA Stampede Warm-Up and Afterburn Slot Races running at the Stampede Grounds

Late goal gives England 2-1 win over Tunisia

At the last World Cup in 2014, England couldn’t even win a game

Canadian military police officer pleads not guilty to sex assault

Sgt. Kevin MacIntyre, 48, entered his plea today at a court martial proceeding in Halifax

Cheers erupt as Federal Court judge approves historic gay purge settlement

Gay military veterans said they were interrogated, harassed and spied on because of their sexuality

Remains of two people found on Vancouver Island

Officials have not said whether or not the remains belong to two missing men, last seen in Ucluelet in mid-May

Helping B.C.’s helpers cope

The MRT has helped almost 7,000 first responders and street workers in 57 communities in B.C.

Border officials argue B.C. man’s Facebook posts threat to Canada’s security

A B.C. Supreme Court judge acquitted Othman Hamdan of terrorism charges last September

Reena Virk’s mother has died

Both of Virk’s parents became activists against bullying in wake of daughter’s death

B.C. announces $75M to help friends, family care for seniors at home

Funding will go towards respite care and adult day programs

Most Read