Does this scenario sound familiar to you?
You (or someone you know) have an age-related hearing loss but refuse to get treated. Maybe you are in denial and, even though you can’t hear or understand what is said to you, you keep insisting everything is hunky-dory. (“It’s those people around me who suddenly speak in hushed tones,” you say).
Or perhaps you do know your hearing is diminishing but can’t stomach the idea of wearing hearing aids – after all, you are not that old!
And here’s another possibility – the idea that our bodies change and some functions –such as hearing – slow down as we grow older, hasn’t quite sunk in yet.
Or, you are one of many people who are afraid of change. If this description fits you like a glove, read on.
Hearing loss: Excuses, excuses
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Yes, you know that hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults. You also know that the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders says that one in ten persons has hearing loss; one in three are over 65. Yet, Better Hearing Institute estimates that there are currently more than 24 million people in the United States who have an untreated hearing loss. Look at it this way – nearly 10 percent of people who need hearing aids don’t have them.
Studies show that people who have unaided hearing loss cite many reasons for not getting help. One of them is high cost (hearing aidss vary in price from $1,000 to $4,000), not reimbursed by Medicare or most private plans.
Another reason is the imaginary stigma attached to hearing aids – many people mistakenly associate them with a disability, which has a negative image in most societies. Needless to say, there is no validity to this thinking – after all, if you need glasses, you get them because they allow you to see better (and look smarter). And if your doctor tells you need a hip replacement so you can walk without pain, you won’t put up a fight, will you?
Yet, when it comes to hearing aids, it’s a different story.
Accepting change – easier said than done
You’ve heard the saying that “change is good,” and you may have even believed it when you were younger. But now you are not so sure.
You are not alone. Numerous studies show that, as we age, we are less willing to embrace change. Research into personality development, for example, demonstrates that openness to new ideas and experiences increases during our 20s and subsequently starts to decline. So when we reach midlife, we may be too set in our ways to be as responsive to change as we were earlier on.
By the same token, we may be frightened of new challenges, viewing any uncharted territory with suspicion and fear.
Hearing health professionals confirm that many people refuse to wear hearing aids because it represents a big change to the status-quo. To these people, wearing hearing aids mean having to adjust to new technology, which, in turn, requires a learning process which they may feel is too much of a bother and a burden at their age.
Hearing Aids: Dare to be hip!
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It's true that getting used to new hearing aids that sit in or behind your ear may take some time. After all, you are suddenly exposed to louder – and different - sounds than the ones you became accustomed to as your hearing gradually dimnished, so your ears and especially your brain have to be re-trained to process sounds through hearing aids.
This adjustment does require patience, but the benefits of improved hearing are so numerous that this process is certainly worth your while.
Just think: hearing aids will ensure your safety at home and in public places by enabling you to hear warning signs of, for example, a fire alarm or an incoming traffic.
They will also, as many studies have proven, increase the overall quality of your life – including the physical, emotional and social aspects - by allowing you to listen to conversations, communicate, participate in activities, and interact with family and friends. In that sense, hearing aids will give you a whole new lease on life!
Ask yourself: isn’t all this worth a little temporary inconvenience while adjusting to hearing aids?
And here’s another perk: wearing hearing aids will peg you not as an oldster that everyone has to shout at to be heard, but as someone hip enough to overcome challenges and embrace change.
If you are still afraid of change, ponder this thought by Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”