What prompts a man to get hearing aids? In my case it was primarily my wife, Sandy, who told me with increasing frequency she was getting tired of me asking “Say, what?”
Yes, at the tender age of 71, I’m now wearing hearing aids. It has taken me awhile to take this step. For several years I realized I couldn’t hear well. A year ago I even had a test, which indicated a hearing deficiency.
Mostly, I’ve had trouble hearing people who speak softly with high-pitched voices. Unfortunately that includes my wife and several grandchildren, whom I would often ask to repeat or speak up.
But what finally prompted me to get hearing aids was a conversation with my friend Dean, who is a little younger than I am. I’ve known Dean for years but hadn’t talked to him for awhile until this summer. I kidded about getting old and not hearing as well as I used to, which is when Dean said, “You really ought to get hearing aids now.”
I winced, but continued to listen.
Dean said he realized a number of years ago he had a hearing loss and decided to get hearing aids. They made so much difference that he has made it his mission to encourage people like me to get them, too.
In a follow-up email Dean was persuasive: “Enhanced hearing has become a critical part of enjoying my mature years. I can’t imagine not having these aids adding to the quality of my life and the quality of life for those around me. What started out as a desire is now a critical necessity.”
I responded saying his words made sense and I’d probably get hearing aids “in a few months,” to which he replied, “You should be expeditious in your pursuit, particularly if you or those around you experience frustration with you not being able hear. And you should be able to enjoy listening activities as much as those around you, including conversation, television, plays and movies.”
He gave me several suggestions regarding websites that provide in-depth hearing aid information and reputable venders. That was the final nudge.
I went to one of the vendors and had my hearing tested again, as I had done a year ago, with the same results. There was a lot I wasn’t hearing.
The technician gave me with a demonstration of aids and asked me to walk around inside and outside the store. I noticed a significant difference, just as I had noticed my improved vision at age 11 when I first tried on glasses. The world wasn’t as fuzzy as I thought.
I decided then to order a set of hearing aids to correct the specific deficit in each of my ears. The technician was helpful in explaining how to wear and use them. The set he suggested included a Bluetooth device I could wear under my shirt, enabling me to easily turn the volume up or down.
Each hearing aid (gray to match my hair) fits over my ear and has a thin wire attached to a tiny cone nestled in my ear canal. After a few days wearing them, I hardly noticed them.
The aids have made a difference. I can hear Sandy much better and I seldom have to ask her, “What?” When watching television I don’t have to rely, as I often did before, on closed captioning. The ability to easily turn the volume up or down depending on the person speaking or room I’m in is helpful.
Unfortunately, hearing aids are not covered, or only partially covered, by most medical insurance. But it’s worth saving up or using savings to buy them.
Like my friend Dean, I now recommend hearing aids to everyone I know who has trouble hearing. As Dean said, “the sooner the better.”
John Spevak is a resident of Los Banos; he wrote this for the Los Banos Enterprise. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.