Saturday, October 24, 2009

New Hearing Aids: Will They Help?

Yesterday, my new heraring aids were delivered and fitted. Unlike my old ones, which I wore on and off for about six years, these fit behind the ear, with only a little plastic tube going inside the ear.

I've learned a lot about hearing aids over the years: (1) They are expensive, and Medicare does not pay for them. (2) No hearing aid can restore absolutely normal hearing. (3) Sometimes they can be more trouble than help, especially in a place where you'd rather not hear the heating system, noisy neighbors, or other unwelcome sounds. (4) They seem to be a sign of old age; some elders reject them long after they become isolated by silence. (5) In-the-ear models like my old ones can react to heat and humidity (as mine did in Egypt) and short out. Repairs are expensive.

So why have I resolved to try again? The old aids are worn out; one worked on occasion, the other not at all. Part of it is noticing those around me at The Clare. Trying to share a table with three other hard-of-hearing resdidents becomes a comedy of errors punctuated by "What did you say? Can you speak louder?" I've found myself just nodding, as if I've heard everything. This is enough to make me even more of a loner than I am naturally.

Young people often complain about elders refusing to wear hearing aids, implying that doing so would solve all communication problems. 'Taint so. Perfect hearing is often a dream, even with the best hearing aids available. Be careful: don't attribute difficult conversations with seniors to lack of intelligence or knowledge or to crankiness. Despite hearing aids, we sometimes just can't get it, especially if you have an unfamiliar accent. Even British accents on TV seem to bother me, hearing aids or not. Be sure to speak slowly and clearly.

Anyway, I got the latest and supposedly best digital aids this time; I have several fittings to go, and I've had some uncomfortable sound feedback. So far, I do think I hear better, but I'll need to try the aids out in social situations and get more adjustments before I can make a true evaluation. In the meantime, I'm hoping to become more aware of what's going on around me. I'm hoping that cocktail parties cease to be annoying experiences. Hearing aids won't make me a social butterfly, but if I'm lucky, they'll help a bit. I certainly hope so.


songbirdben said...

It's wonderful to see postings like yours. The more people write and read about hearing loss, the better. Since you are taking a leadership position by doing this, I thought I would let you know about my company since you may speak with others looking for solutions. My company is Songbird Hearing and can be found at We offer high-quality digital hearing aids sold directly to customers. Songbird is a wonderful option for anyone who is either unable or unwilling to purchase a hearing aid through the traditional pathways.

Thank you again for your post and our wishes for your continued success and kudos with your writing.

Ben from Songbird

Anonymous said...

Hi Marlys,
I wonder if you're traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday. We'll be at home, with two nephews visiting. As we did last year, with just 1 nephew here, we'll be going to a restaurant! This suits us and Jon's mother--and likely other older folks-- and the young people can order what fits their current dietary worlds.
Whatever your plans, best wishes.
-- Pat (Ann Arbor)

seniorwriter said...

Hello, Pat.

I'm not going anywhere for thanksgiving, but they are serving a special dinner here at The Clare. I expect to eat with some others who will be alone (many have guests here for the dinner). I am going to Tulsa for Christmas with my niece and her family. I don't mind holidays as much as I used to, but I'm concerned about gaining weight! I have lost nine pounds and need to lose more. Have happy holidays!