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Hearing voices: Did she have Old Timer’s Disease?

By on February 26, 2019 in Columnist with 0 Comments
Diana Carty

By Diana Carty

I took care of my dear Aunt Betty for five-and-a-half years until she died at the ripe old age of 101. 

She lived in Kentucky her whole life and had that sweet Kentucky drawl that made one syllable words become two. 

One time I went to visit her and she was all upset. I asked her what was wrong and she said that she thinks she might have “Old Timer’s Disease” now. 

I said “Aunt Betty what makes you think that?” 

She said that she keeps hearing someone say “Hello Betty” and when she turns around there is no one there. She reports that had been going on for several days before I got there. 

She was visibly upset and as a nurse I reassured her that at age 100 she did not have Alzheimer’s Disease and that she was doing remarkable for her age. 

I then tried to redirect her thoughts to some fun ideas of things that we could do together while I was there.

My visits there were full of running errands for her, going to appointments with her and taking her on long drives along the beautiful countryside of southeastern Kentucky. 

I had asked her hearing aid specialist, Donnie, to drop by the assisted living residence one day to clean her hearing aides. 

My aunt always loved to see Donnie. As soon as Donnie came in the room he came right up to my aunt and dropped to his knees so that he could be eye level with Aunt Betty who was sitting in her wheelchair. 

Before he could ask her how she was doing she started in with, “Donnie I think I have Old Timer’s Disease.” 

“I have been hearing voices saying ‘Hello Betty’ over and over but no one is there.” 

That same fear and worry rose up out of her again that I had seen upon my arrival. Donnie patiently listened to her all the while with a big smile on his face. 

My aunt asked him why he was smiling and that she was very serious about this. 

Donnie then said, “ Miss Betty, you have the fancy kind of hearing aides and when the battery is getting low a voice will come on and say ‘low battery’ until you change the batteries in your hearing aides.” 

The look of relief on Aunt Betty’s face was precious. 

All this time she had not been hearing “Hello Betty” but rather “Low battery.” She was so happy that she reached out and hugged Donnie. 

We all got a good laugh out of this and she now knew that she did not have “Old Timer’s Disease.”

Diana Carty is a nurse at Confluence Health. In her free time she enjoys hiking, kayaking, tennis and swimming.

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