Because of hearing aids, my auditory capabilities extend far beyond my ears. These tiny devices, matched to the color of my remaining hair, enable me to hear far better than I thought possible.
Years ago, I wasn’t ready to admit that my frequent “Huhs?” were a problem. I was never going to wear an ungainly technology that would reveal that I wasn’t tracking much of what was happening around me. I could manage just fine without those ugly devices.
I was wrong.
A variety of physical and cognitive effects can accompany hearing loss. Among them is a gradual withdrawal in social situations in which conversations’ back-and-forth aren’t accurately understood. Before hearing aids, I wasn’t as outgoing, as though not interested in the company of those around me. I realized, too, that I couldn’t hear my car’s turn signals, frequently missed sermons’ intricacies and increased my mumbling. None of that good, and perhaps harmful.
Ongoing research is now exploring how diminished eyesight and hearing might correlate with cognitive decline. (Strong sensory perceptions—hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting—help older brains stay active.) Studies have shown consistently that the loss of sociability is associated with the development of dementia. (My social detachment was probably a warning sign!)
Current hearing aid technology is amazing. Hearing tests help audiologists program the hearing aids to an individual’s specific hearing loss. Paired with smartphones, hearing aids enable connection to a variety of audio sources. Rechargeable batteries eliminate the need for costly battery replacement. Affordability? Some insurance plans—and soon, perhaps Medicare—may cover the cost of hearing devices. The devices are virtually undetectable—a comfort to my unwarranted vanity!
So, this invitation: Consider hearing aids as part of your well-being. Assured of their benefits, you’ll be able to join me in saying: I CAN hear you!
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