I am a Concord senior citizen with hearing loss; and I have learned not to hide it. I have actively looked for ways to hear better; and I have found them. I often wonder why so many people minimize or feel ashamed of their hearing loss and endlessly delay looking for ways to hear better. As my title says, why not hear better now?
Do you believe that hearing loss is uncommon and sets you apart from others? I have learned that it is extremely common, especially if you are seventy-five or older. At that age, just about half of your peers have significant hearing loss. The numbers go down for younger people; but some babies are born deaf; and disabling hearing loss can occur at any age. It has nothing to do with how smart you are. Ludvig Beethoven first noticed hearing loss when he was 26 and was totally deaf by his mid- forties. He kept composing music.
Once hearing starts to decline there is a good chance that it will progress as the years pass and this will significantly change how you live your life. If you cannot communicate effectively with others, you can become more and more socially isolated. To some extent, you may choose to be socially isolated because it is frustrating and depressing when you repeatedly don’t understand what others are saying. Even if you do choose it, it is painful.
You do not have to be isolated. My own experience is that many people, once they understand your difficulties talking with them, will happily do a little work to include you in a conversation. Others will have less work required of them, however, if you do whatever you can to hear better. Don’t keep asking whether you are ready yet to use a device that will enable you to hear better. Delaying can only make your interactions with others more difficult.
But, it’s not so easy deciding what to do. There are many different types and brands of hearing aids available, with widely varying features and costs. You will benefit greatly from professional guidance to navigate among all these possibilities and find the device that is best for you. You can just buy hearing aids over-the-counter with no guidance whatsoever and hope for the best; or you can see an audiologist, get a hearing test, and get a device that truly fits your hearing profile and your budget.
Also very useful is talking with other people who are dealing with hearing loss, many of whom will have experienced what you are now experiencing, and are willing to share what they have learned. The Concord Council on Aging offers a hearing loss support group that meets monthly and is facilitated by this writer. It is an open group, and you can come once or come many times. Just call the COA at 978-318-3020 and ask to register for the group.
Bob Andrews is a retired Concord resident who has experienced hearing loss and volunteers his time to facilitate the COA Hearing Support Group.