I love my hearing aids, to the moon and back. They even have names, Billy and Bob. But it hasn’t always been a love affair; a succession of hearing aids have been glared at, sworn at, and ignored. I have pondered how much they would pull in on eBay.
But now, if I have to give them up for more than a few minutes, I break into a sweat. When my audiologist takes Billy-Bob to another room for cleaning, I yell, “Hurry back!”
If someone asks me why they should get hearing aids, I say, “I can give you 1000 good reasons, but I’ll start with 11. But, tell me why you would not get hearing aids, if you need them?”
They often say, “I can give you 1000, but I’ll start with two. I don’t want to and I can’t afford them.”
Ok, those are powerful reasons – and something to explore in upcoming blogs. But for now, let’s concentrate on the positive benefits of getting your own set of Billy-Bobs.
The Number One reason, in my opinion, is also the scariest – a twist on the old ‘use it or lose it’ theme. A new study from the University of Pennsylvania suggests that declines in hearing ability may accelerate gray matter atrophy (think wasting away, withering, shrinking) in auditory areas of the brain, making it more difficult for older adults to understand speech. Researchers found, however, that wearing hearing aids may help decrease the atrophy, as well as help a person’s hearing ability.
Personally, I don’t need a better reason than that, because I need as much grey matter as I can get. But here more compelling arguments for why the majority of us with hearing loss should get hearing aids and wear them.
1. You’ll Hear Better! The simplest and the best reason. While most hearing loss cannot yet be completely corrected by surgery or assistive listening devices, a hearing aid will restore many auditory treasures.
2. You’ll Look Better! Eliminate unpleasant frowns as you struggle to follow dialogue. Wash away those blank looks that signal that you’re not following the conversation – again! Improved hearing technology eases the frustration, irritation and feelings of isolation that keep you from being your most smiling, attractive, and connected self.
3. You’ll Sound Better! Your speech will become clearer to you and others. Your diction and tonality will improve and you’ll have better volume control – of your own voice! You will shout or whisper less in inappropriate situations. (And trust me, if you have a significant hearing loss and don’t use some form of amplification, your speech is affected!)
4. You’ll Feel Better! Wearing a hearing aid is a powerful statement of the value you place on yourself, your relationships and your role in the world. It shows your strength of character in facing a problem and taking steps to improve it. Good communication leads to better overall health.
5. Your Posture Will Improve! Your neck won’t thrust out at right angles to your body as you try to move your ear closer to the source of sound. Your spine won’t hunch as you retreat from difficult social interaction. You will stand straighter, with confidence.
6. You’ll Be a Leader! Being the first to wear of today’s technically-improved, sound-enhancing hearing aids will give you status as a trailblazer. You will be the one people turn to for advice.
7. Your Family Life Will Improve! Relatives and friends will start listening to you again when it’s clear that you’re now hearing them. It’s not a person’s hearing loss that irritates family members, but the unwillingness to admit their loss and do something about it.
8. Love May Bloom Again! Whether it’s your life-long partner or someone new, nothing boosts romance like good communication. And for a person with hearing loss, well-fitted hearing aids are a must. Sweet whispers in the ear may be impossible to speechread, but hearing someone say “I love you” makes up for an awful lot.
9. Your Social Life Will Improve! Movies, theatre, cards, family gatherings – you can start enjoying many of these activities again. You’ll be able to converse better in noisy situations. A hearing aid may be the best social step forward you can make.
10. You’ll Be Smarter! The onset of hearing loss has nothing to do with diminished brainpower. By using hearing aids and assistive listening devices, you’ll learn about hearing loss and its effect on lives and relationships. You’ll discover new communication strategies and new ways to live better. Now that’s smart!
Research shows that hearing devices like Billy-Bob really do work. Visit the blogs of David Kirkwood and Judy Huch on this site for more information.