Alton Jones Sr. and Alton Jones Jr. are the first ever father-son duo in the Bassmaster Elite Series. Alton Sr. has made 18 Bassmaster Classic appearances, including his 2008 win. Alton Jr. is coming off the biggest year of his career, having earned his Bassmaster Classic berth as well as qualifying for the 2017 Bassmaster Elite Series.
These anglers have formed a strong bond over the sport they love, and they weren’t going to let hearing loss stand in the way of that. Alton Sr. recalls how his own parents’ hearing loss gradually eroded the relationship he had long enjoyed, and he did not want this to be the case with his own son. So, at 53 years old, Alton Sr. scheduled his hearing test and was fitted with hearing aids – a decision he made for his loved ones as much as for himself.
Take a look at what this father and son have to say about their hearing health journey.
Q: Alton Sr., tell us about your family’s experience with hearing loss.
Alton Sr.: Both of my parents, as well as my parents-in-law, began with a gradual hearing loss. I first noticed it at restaurants and other noisy areas and they would have to ask you to repeat a question or redirect their focus to your mouth in order to understand. As time went by our conversations became more difficult, and as a result we just didn’t communicate as effectively or as frequently as we once did. I’ve now started noticing those early symptoms of hearing loss in my own ears.
Q: Alton Jr., how did hearing loss affect your relationship with your family?
Alton Jr.: Hearing loss affected my family in many different ways, but I saw its worst effects on how it affected the communication between my grandparents and myself. It was nearly impossible to call and have a conversation with my grandfather or to even wish him happy birthday. When he took the initiative to go get tested for hearing loss and get Miracle-Ear hearing aids it completely changed the way we communicated. Seeing the smiles on his face when we could sit in the local coffee shop and talk was an incredible experience and is something I will never forget. Seeing this also encouraged my father to go get his hearing tested to help prevent hearing loss in the future. It is great to know that is something I will never have to go through with my father.
Q: Alton Sr., why did you decide to get tested and, eventually, purchase hearing aids?
Alton Sr.: Once my parents were fitted with Miracle-Ear hearing aids it brought a swift and dramatic transformation in our ability to carry on a conversation. My relationship with them had always been strong, but their hearing loss had definitely been a barrier up until Miracle-Ear came long. As soon as I began noticing slight symptoms in my own hearing, I vowed to get tested in order to preempt any strain that might be put my relationships with my family due to my hearing loss. I’d always been intimidated by the idea of getting tested for hearing loss, but after seeing how easy it was for my parents it took some of my fear away. So I went to my local Miracle-Ear hearing care professional and had mine checked. And it was a free test!
Q: Alton Jr., based on your family’s history with hearing loss, what steps do you take to protect your hearing now?
Alton Jr.: I take hearing loss very seriously; I know that with the right precautionary measures, I can save my loved ones and myself a lot of trouble in the future. As an outdoorsman I am exposed to loud noises all the time. I always wear my Miracle-Ear Guardians when hunting or making long runs in my boat. I may be 25 but no one is too young to prevent hearing loss.
Alton Jr.: Shooting Shotguns when duck hunting is extremely damaging to your hearing if the right protection is not worn. Also, the wind and motor noise at 75 mph on a bass boat can be very hard on your ears. Sometimes we run upwards of 200 miles during a day. That’s over 3 hours of damaging wind and noise, which can be devastating to your hearing if you aren’t prepared with the proper hearing protection.
Alton Sr.: The main factor contributing to my hearing loss is the excessive wind noise generated by long boat rides at speeds over 70 mph day after day after day. Imagine the noise of riding a motorcycle without a helmet or sticking your head out of a car window at highway speeds. That’s the noise I’m subjected to every day I’m on the water. On many occasions during tournaments, I’ve arrived at my starting location with a loud ringing or buzzing in my ears. The ringing drowns out other noises that I enjoy hearing while fishing. The sounds of water fowl singing or the splash of a fish striking the surface of the water simply fade into distortion.
Q: What would you tell other anglers, outdoorsmen or athletes about the importance of testing and protecting your hearing?
Alton Sr.: I was always “scared” about having my hearing tested and worried about a stigma of being hearing impaired. I guess I was just in denial for a while. But my Miracle-Ear experience was so easy and hassle-free! I can’t believe the difference my hearing aids have made on every aspect of my life. Don’t let your hearing loss be a roadblock in your relationships. Go to your local Miracle-Ear hearing care professional and get a free hearing test.
Q: What recommendations would you make to anyone that is witnessing their loved ones show signs of hearing loss?
Alton Sr.: If you are noticing a loved one having difficulty hearing encourage them to get a free test. You might even offer to set up the appointment for them. Improving their quality of life through better hearing will mean more to them than you’ll ever know, and it will mean the world to you as well.