The sounds of silence — Or hearing aids part 2!

After a less than perfect hearing test earlier this year, I decided to try hearing aids. You can read my post here. In a nutshell, I was tested and was borderline for aids. My issues are with higher frequencies. I decided to give them a try to see if they would tweak it a bit.

Hearing aids have come a long way. They are small and non-obtrusive. The ones I had you couldn’t see so there is no vanity issue. After a while you don’t feel them either.

They are work. They have to be cleaned and you have to remember to put them in. The batteries don’t last long. I would compare them to contact lenses. If they help enough, you don’t mind the rest.

For me, it was a slight tweaking. First I wore them all the time. I found I didn’t need that. I spend much of my day with cats who are very articulate about their needs. My husband speaks in the frequencies I can hear (or I make believe I can’t hear). I was more interested in wearing them for social events.

I tested them for two months — big events, small events, dinner parties, one-on-one, small groups and music concerts.

For me there wasn’t enough bang for the buck. I stopped wearing them in larger groups with background noise. I stopped wearing them to restaurants and concerts. I didn’t need them for one-on-one. Eventually I was rarely wearing them.

If I was still working, the decision would have been different. If my loss was more severe, my decision would have been different. This past week I took them back. They had been adjusted a few times but I just wasn’t wearing them.

If you have a hearing loss I would suggest giving aids a try. They are available at a reasonable cost but you have to shop around. Most places will give you a free trial period too.

My neighbor bought a pair last year. She was a great source of information. The prices she was quoted ranged from $10K to $1,600 for essentially the same aids. If your loss is profound or unique, you may need a licensed audiologist. If it isn’t, you may be able get a pair from a big box store. The people there are fully trained in fitting aids no matter what your neighborhood audiologist says.

I understand my loss. I know what sounds I can’t hear well and I know how to position myself in public settings. I’ve learned the techniques to fake hearing — the head bouncing up and down (in agreement with you) and yelling “really!” periodically. I can get by. I avoid saying “yes” because you never know what you are agreeing to.

The occasional flashing of expressive eyes helps to convince people that you are listening too. (The truth is that I used these techniques long before I had any hearing loss. Some people don’t need to be heard! It was also good for the all-day budget meetings.)

There may be times when I hear something different from what you said. Just be patient. As long as I’m not on a witness stand, I’m OK with it.

53 thoughts on “The sounds of silence — Or hearing aids part 2!

  1. I got hearing aids a couple of years ago. At first it was ‘wow, now I can hear stuff!’ but gradually the downsides stated to become clear too. Crowded rooms such as the pub or meetings just became a mush of noise. Supposed directionality just didn’t function for me. Then the screaming din of opening a crisp packet became too much to bear. The high pitched noise of a tap running fast also became unbearable. Now I hardly wear them ever. I live with a loss of discrimination but so long as people face me when talking I’m OK. And I often lose the first word of a spoken sentence in the ‘grab-my-attention’ phase. But that’s avoidable if people are willing to get my attention first before speaking.

    I’m going to the hearing aid lady next week to see if the high frequency response can be turned down. I might go back to using them if that happems.

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  2. This is great info, Kate. After much begging, pleading (and yes, grovelling) Richard finally went for a hearing test. He kinda, sorta admitted that he has reduced hearing in his left ear. The test confirmed that he has significantly reduced hearing in both ears. The funny thing was that the woman who had conducted the test then called me in to go over the results with both of us together. She then proceeded to tell me that my voice was very soft, and no wonder poor Richard had a hard time hearing me. And then she gave me step-by-step instructions on things that I could do to help Richard hear me better. Next time that he has a test like this, I will definitely STAY HOME! 🙂

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  3. I am glad you shared the journey and experimentation with us, Kate. My hearing is still pretty good, as far as I can tell, but in groups with lots of background noise, quite another obstacle. I have a lot of trouble in noisy restaurants! I think it’s wonderful to see how far the technology has developed into the small and unobtrusive devices so different from what we remember of our grandparents’ day. I’m not opposed to them at all if I end up needing them. In the meantime, I fake it sometimes with head nods, too! 🙂

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    • I don’t think anyone can hear in restaurants. About 20 years ago new restaurants went with a “stark” look (they called it California-style) with no fabrics to soften the noise. The ceilings were high with cement floors so sound would bounce. It was trendy and we stopped going to those restaurants. Our local Outback recently renovated and the new one has no booths (which I love because they keep out some of the background noise). Wish we would go back to quiet and romantic restaurants.

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  4. The word I use most often these days is, “what?” I guess I should have my hearing tested but I keep putting it off. I can still hear the alarm, the phone, and when someone knocks on the door. Conversations in stores and restaurants and the TV not so much.

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  5. Got such a giggle out of your “I’m listening” conversation strategies. So true.
    I understand background noise especially in restaurants is a problem, but I wish Sr. Staff would explore the option – I’v hoarse some nice from repeating and sometimes in conversations with people, well, they aren’t about what he thinks they are about and what he comes out with is a bit out of sync..but often funny. (He’s great, we’ll keep him…RC says she’ll fill in blanks for him…now that’s a worry)

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    • They are amazing. My brother who has significant hearing loss requires the clunky plastic in the ear piece but most people can get by with a very small amplifier not much bigger than a wire in the ear canal. From a wearing standpoint, they are not annoying at all.

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  6. Very solid analysis. Cats are such great communicators that we don’t need hearing for them, that’s for sure. I suspect that my hearing problem right now is mainly knowing what direction the sound is coming from. Have you ever heard of them? I yell for the gardener in the yard. He says, “I’m over here!” But I don’t know where over here is. Something falls in the house, and I don’t know what direction to look!

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  7. Thanks for sharing all this Kate. It is definitely reassuring to know I can try the darned things on for a while and then take ’em back. I have also read recently that over the counter hearing aids are expected very soon. I visualize it will be like buying sunglasses!

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  8. Too funny on the initial cartoon:) I also smiled on your articulate cats. I still have very sensitive hearing which also has pros and cons. My husband is on the other end of the spectrum. We communicate in a very interesting way:) I appreciate you sharing, Kate. For me this is under the category on how we don’t know what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes. Patience is always a virtue:)

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  9. Thanks for part two of the primer on hearing aids. I also “do” selective hearing and the bobbing of the head … it works when I’m somewhere and I miss half of what someone is saying, maybe due to background noise or they talk a mile a minute. I have a problem with people talking fast – I think I said that to you before, maybe in your part I post. I read that young people talk fast because they do everything in abbreviated versions – texting, just reading headlines or abridged news stories on social media as opposed to reading a newspaper … I don’t know, but I’m often lost a half-minute into the conversation.

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    • A lot of people drop off at the end of a sentence (lower their tone). That is annoying. If you ask them to repeat, they will say the first part (that you heard clearly) very loudly, then drop off again. My husband is a big offender here but it’s pretty universal. I’m not around really young kids much. Sometimes the baristas at Starbucks mutter in back of the equipment and I can’t hear them.

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      • I’ll have to listen for that dropping off at the end of a sentence Kate. I am more annoyed with the younger folks talking at the speed of sound. We have a young coach for the Detroit Lions. Even when he is not excited about something (not much to be excited about as they stink), he talks fast. And when they lose, he seems to talk even faster and I can’t understand a thing he stays. I notice it when the young players on all our teams are interviewed – I’m lost after a minute. (Perhaps I have a short attention span?)

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  10. Your experience was pretty much a mirror of mine, except that I didn’t take them back since my insurance paid for them 100%. I really, really intend to wear them more but I forget (sort of like make-up: I really, really intend to wear it more…but, you know… retired). I do like the bluetooth feature for when I garden or walk (which I really, really intend to do more), I can listen to my podcasts wirelessly.

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    • OMG! We are alike! If I didn’t have to pay for them I would have kept them with the intent of wearing (in my fantasies). I’m like that about makeup too. If I had a dollar for every time I forgot to put on lipstick (since I retired) I’d be rich and living in Maui. The bluetooth capacity is amazing. With the right apps I could have turned on lights in the house and who knows what else.

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        • I had hard ones for 35 years and didn’t think anything of it. In the past 2 years my eye doc tried to sell me on soft lenses with progressives built in for reading. I can’t get soft lenses in and out of my eye easily so I gave up. You do have to pick and choose what works for you. At this point in my life, I can work with glasses.

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          • Pick and choose…that rather defines life in general. I never could easily get contacts in OR out and decided my time was more valuable. Plus having a son in the business, I got a healthy ‘friends & family’ discount on glasses. My family calls me the Imelda Marcos of eyewear now with a pair of reading glasses in every room, vehicle, and work area. It’s great not having to search for a pair but an expensive process when the Rx needs to be updated. LOL

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  11. Thanks for sharing your “experimentation” with us ~ trying them, deciding when it made sense to wear them, and then evaluating the pros & cons is a good way to make a decision about something like this.

    I hated giving up contact lenses but I could no longer put them in and forget them. So I wore them less and less . . . eventually only for “dress up” occasions. I decided it was easier to take my glasses on & off than deal with contact lenses.

    BTW: BFF’s MRI = fine. No tumor on the auditory nerve. Just some hearing loss of unknown etiology. He’s not a candidate for hearing aids per his ENT doc.

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    • Good for BFF (I think). No tumor is always good news. If he can live with some level of hearing loss, that works too. I wore contacts for 35 years but they started to make my eyes bloodshot. I had vision correction surgery which was wonderful (I was very near sighted) but I still need glasses for reading. It’s easier to wear all the time and have a clear top part then put readers on and off. We always figure out what works best for us.

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  12. “Hear, Hear!”……I think my husband, who was both a jet engine mechanic at one time and a telephone lineman/repairman at another time could use aids but won’t get them. He is much better NOW about using hearing protection but back in the day he would forget from time to time and I’m sure his hearing suffered as a result. I often have to repeat things but mostly I just speak louder when talking to him. It works. My Mom was hard of hearing and I got used to semi-yelling with her so it’s no biggie to carry on the tradition with my husband. “The things we do for love”…..:)

    Hugs, Pam

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  13. I “hear” what you are saying and think returning them was a wise choice. I have been in your company enough to think either you’ve fooled me quite well, or indeed you can hear well enough not to need an aid! I chose to think the 2nd option! Spend that money on something that brings you joy!

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