Thursday, October 4, 2018

Do you have your hearing aids in?

Lynn says "Do you have your hearing aids in?" just about anytime I don't.  The hearing aids fit behind my ears so they are exposed to anything that hits me on the top of my head, like rain.  I haven't tried simply wearing them in the rain and as soon as I step out of the house or the car, I remove them. They cost about $2,000 each and I want them to last.  

We talk to each other often during the day and anytime I speak without wearing my hearing aids, I automatically begin to shout.  I try give myself the same sound feedback without them as with them, and that requires a higher volume. She hears me blasting away and asks me to check.  I am used to having them in and on my ears and I have to use my hands to tell if I have them in/on or not.

Over time, about six years or so, my hearing aids have gotten to be more important to our lives.  I read recently something like 75% of the people in the US who need them, don't have them. Expense is usually cited as the reason.  It probably is one of the main reasons but there are plenty of others. It takes effort to note that you don't hear what another person is saying and to ask for a repeat and clarity.  Doing that many times a day is a drag on a relationship and tiresome.

Traditionally, men have felt and been encouraged to feel that one's ears and hearing will be just fine and not to worry about high levels of noise.  Machinery is often quite loud. When I was 10, I had my ears cleaned by the camp doctor and immediately went to the rifle range, where the shots were painfully loud.  I had no idea that my hearing should be protected and took no steps to protect it. More and more, I see men working near loud trucks or driving loud lawn equipment wearing ear protection.

I have never been pleased with a restaurant or a bar or a dance with very loud music.  Yet, it is still the practice to have high volume, very high volume at social events. Google "why do fashionable restaurants play such loud music" and see for yourself.  I didn't explore many of the search results but none that I did look at gave actual data on sales or appreciation of high noise versus low.

I have mentioned before the book by Seth Horowitz "The Universal Sense".  It is about hearing all over the world and in all animals, not just humans.  It is true that many of us can read and write and don't use sound perception to do that, but it is still the case that speech is fundamental to humans and we need to be able to hear others.  There are lots of older men grumbling about not being able understand the speech of their granddaughters. I hope they visit an audiologist and get some good hearing aids. Good hearing is at least as important as driving.

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