By Jennifer Outcelt, Creative Content Architect
A man talks to the family doctor, “Doc, I think my wife’s going deaf.” The doctor replies, “Well, here’s something you can try to test her hearing. Stand some distance away from her and ask her a question. If she doesn’t answer, move a little closer and ask again. Keep repeating this until she answers. Then you’ll be able to tell just how hard of hearing she really is.” So, the man goes home and tries it out.
He walks in the door and says, “Honey, what’s for dinner?”
He doesn’t hear an answer, so he moves closer to her. “Honey, what’s for dinner?”
Still no answer.
He repeats this several times, until he’s standing just a few feet away from her. “Honey, what’s for dinner?”
Finally, she answers, “For the ninth time, I said we’re having MEATLOAF!”
It’s a silly old joke, but one that might ring truer the older you get. And I’m talking about relevancy here, not an actual ringing in your ears. Though, you might have that too. Chances are, if you’re over 40, you are beginning your hearing loss journey. Of your 5 basic senses, hearing is one of the first to develop senioritis. It starts skipping classes, lacks motivation, and it’s performance dwindles. To be clear, I’m comparing this to a student in 12th grade. I would never dream of creating a metaphor involving the word “senior” in a thinly veiled plot to imply that you were becoming a senior citizen… (looks around nervously).
But hear me out here. Losing your hearing can impact way more of your life than just ignorance towards the menu items for the evening’s meal. And this fading out of the world around you does not happen overnight. It’s gradual and stealthy. In fact, you’ll never hear it coming until someone you love is shouting at you about meatloaf.
My dad (sorry, dad, I know you’ll read this) has been flighting with this reality for several years. His tinnitus and hearing loss have gotten worse from decades of loud machinery and even more decades of just plain life. We’ve begged him to hear reason and go get tested for hearing aids, but he would hear none of it. And I mean because he is stubborn, not because he didn’t hear us beg. At first, he claimed that everyone around him just mumbled. This caused him to be frustrated with family and friends and ultimately limited his ability to contribute to conversations in the lively and captivating ways he used to. I think he is starting to recognize the need for auditory assistance now, but it’s hard to get past the stigma of a hearing aid.
Losing your hearing might make you feel like you are broken or old, but if left to slowly fade to mute it can deprive you of way more than just sound. Apparently, it can lead to brain atrophy, loss of balance, dementia, social isolation, and depression. I found information about this in a study about the “Association of Hearing Loss With Psychological Distress and Utilization of Mental Health Services Among Adults in the United States”, and an brief article about “The Hidden Risks of Hearing Loss” that I think would be an interesting read for you. That is unless your eyes are also in senioritis mode… in which case, might I recommend glasses?