The other day I was chatting with my podologist (who is also a friend) and the topic of hearing aids and hearing loss came up.
She was surprised to learn i had hearing aids (we’re not close, so it’s understandable she didn’t know), and quickly started telling me about how many of her clients are elderly people who are hard of hearing. She said she often had to repeat things and had made it a habit of speaking loudly.
I asked her if she ever told them, explaining that as we can’t hear what we don’t hear, many people with hearing loss underestimate the degree to which it impairs their ability to communicate. Often, indeed, it is comments from people around us that drive us to investigate our hearing.
She was stunned to realise that they might not be aware of their condition. Based on the information I’ve gleaned here and there (and my own personal experience), I think it’s common for people who are in denial about their hearing loss to assume that it’s the person speaking who is mumbling or not talking loud enough. Or that we can hear fine when people speak, it’s just that we have trouble understanding.
Since I’ve been fitted, I have to say I’ve been on a bit of a mission to encourage people around me who suspect they might not hear well or who know they have hearing loss to take the first step of getting an audiogramme done. At the very least, you get some kind of objective measure of your situation.
I encouraged her to broach the subject with her clients, when it was obvious to her they weren’t hearing well. “Have you had your hearing checked lately?” Or “do you know you ask me to repeat things often”, or “I make a conscious effort to speak loudly with you, it might be worth getting an audiogramme done.” I also explained how it is better to be fitted early, as adjustment to hearing aids is less brutal with milder loss, and when you’re younger. Better not wait until you’re 95 and deaf as a doorknob to get your first hearing aid!