“It’s the best thing I ever did” Dorothy says. A reference to the decision to get a cochlear implant. Ordinarily this statement is something recipients often say. However, there is nothing ordinary about Dorothy Auld. Or her story.
This is demonstrated best by learning she was implanted at 93 years old and in July of this year turned 100 years old. The result – a celebration with family and friends from as far as Adelaide and as wide as Bathurst, in Gosford on the NSW Central Coast. It is here Dorothy calls home.
Recently, we invited Dorothy into the RIDBC Gosford office for a cup of tea, piece of cake and a chat – to celebrate the milestone.
From RIDBC Audiologist Samantha Stevens “Dorothy’s audiogram showed hearing loss as profound as I have seen. Initially, I had to write everything down. Today, she is always a pleasure to speak with”.
The statement ‘you are never too old’ is personified by Dorothy.
Daughter Jan puts it well “Mum was very emotional about her hearing loss, exacerbated by not being able to use the telephone”. The telephone became a symbol of independence and a way to stay connected with her family. Regaining that independence was vital for Dorothy. It was everything. And she achieved it.
“It is great to see her [Dorothy] move from someone reliant on family to someone who is independent” says Samantha.
As Samantha suggests much of her success needs to be credited to Dorothy herself, who has been diligent with using her implant, ensuring it is worn for the longest possible time. This has given her the best possible outcomes. “It [the processor] is attached from the first thing in the morning and taken off before bed, I always wear it” claims Dorothy. Jan agrees “Mum was determined from Day 1, and committed to working hard, particularly through the early stages”.
Outside of independence, Jan recognises communication as one of the benefits she has noticed in her mum. “Previously we would talk about her despite the fact she was in the same room, if we do it now she reminds us she can hear us” laughs Jan.
Dorothy’s story is a fascinating one.
She is 1 of 13 children; has 3 children; 8 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; and 2 great-great-grandchildren.
Deafness was common in the family. Her mother was deaf. As were her sisters. As such she became proficient at lip reading, a skill she has since lost after being able to hear. Growing up in Maitland in the NSW Hunter Valley, Dorothy moved to Sydney during the Second World War, summoned by the Government to contribute to the war time effort. Following that Dorothy married and spent 37 years working at the well-known Traveller’s Rest in Hexham – now a McDonalds restaurant. Sadly, Dorothy’s husband passed away 38 years ago – when she was 61.
At 77 years old Dorothy’s tenacity was on show as she braved a hot, Mildura summer sun picking grapes to fund her first European holiday, a trip taken with her sister. Just another remarkable chapter in Dorothy’s story.
And finally, the cliché question for someone who reaches such a milestone – ‘what is your secret?’ “A lot of hard work is the key to a long life” Dorothy replies.