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Living with Someone with Hearing Loss

“Hon, can you please put the laundry in the dryer?” I asked my husband while I made our lunch.

My husband’s response was, “WHAT?!?”

So I raised my voice a few levels and repeated, “CAN YOU PLEASE PUT THE CLOTHES IN THE DRYER?”

My better half came back with, “Sure thing. But you don’t have to yell.”

Sound familiar? Welcome to my world.

Meet Sharon and Jeff, a typical 55+ couple, who live with hearing loss. 

When did it all begin?

I know that I’ve probably had to repeat myself a hundred times or more in the past year. We are very lucky that his hearing loss isn’t more severe. He can still listen to his favorite music (admittedly, it sounds awfully loud to me) and always participates in family talk at the dinner table. But some days, I still find myself worrying that his hearing will get worse. I’ve realized that hearing is something most of us pretty much take for granted until we – or someone we’re close to – suffers some degree of hearing loss. So I decided to do some research on the subject. What I learned was surprising. Our situation wasn’t unique. And, there were quite a few other hearing related issues neither one of us was aware of.

For starters, data shows that hearing loss is something that most of us have to deal with sooner or later.

Here are a few facts:

  • Hearing loss affects one in 10 people
  • Age-related hearing loss is an increasingly important public health problem affecting approximately 40% of 55–74 year olds*
  • Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting adults over 65
  • Younger people are developing hearing loss as a result of listening to music at high volumes and using earbuds**

I found it ironic that today’s technology is damaging hearing, while at the same time, is a part of the solution. Due to advancements in design, there are now devices that are incredibly compact, simple to use, and quite comfortable.

“You just need to speak up.”

Studies show a large number of people with hearing loss can definitely benefit from a hearing aid. However, there are many people who don’t or won’t use a hearing aid. Why? When you get right down to it, the reasons are usually more emotional than anything else. Something I can relate to from personal experience.

I felt like my husband and I were both missing out when it came to our conversations. As you can imagine, over time it gets pretty frustrating. When I brought up the idea of a hearing aid, it wasn’t a welcome suggestion. He told me he didn’t need one…and that his hearing was fine…and maybe that I just needed to speak up. His most encouraging answer was, “Maybe I’ll think about it in a few years.” That’s when I realized his hearing loss was a little bit like the latest streaks of silver in my hair. They made me feel like we were getting older.

Feeling “old”

Let’s face it – no one wants to look or feel ‘old’. Of course, ‘old’ is a relative term, especially when you consider “50 is the new 30” and baby boomers are having more fun than anyone these days. Personally, I’m pretty sure you can get older without being old. But certain things still hit home – like when the words “hearing aid” are spoken out loud.

I started thinking about what hearing loss must feel like to my husband. It can’t be fun. It’s obvious that connections with our friends and family are what make life rich and interesting. But if he can’t hear what people are saying, where does that leave him?

Depression, cognitive decline, and safety

Someone once pointed out to me that not being able to communicate freely instantly inhibits friendships and romance. As sad as that is, it made me understand why people with hearing loss often turn inward. Research explains that increasing isolation breeds loneliness and depression. There was even a study that compared individuals with untreated hearing loss to those who used hearing aids. The people without hearing devices were 36% more likely to have suffered with depression within the last 12 months.

I found other adverse physical changes are related to hearing loss as well. Over time, isolation can lead cognitive decline. And depression can lead to a compromised immune system, leaving a person more susceptible to fatigue and illness.

A coworker told me she worried about her husband’s safety when he was golfing because she didn’t think he’d be able to hear people yelling “FORE” on the course. Honestly, I had never thought about my loved one being dinged in the head by a stray ball until she shared that story.

Affecting a paycheck

I’ll admit, when I shared most of this information with my husband, he wasn’t all that interested. But when I discovered how hearing loss could negatively impact a paycheck, his ears perked up.

Research by Dr. Bridget Shield, a Professor of Acoustics at London South Bank University, has shown that hearing loss is related to unemployment and underemployment. The annual loss of income can add up to as much as $30,000 per person, on average, every year. Turns out our ability to communicate and respond are as important to the global economy as they are in our personal life.

Finding an affordable option

That’s when I decided to look into purchasing a hearing aid. It was a little bit like shopping for a car. Believe me, you can find anything from a cheap compact model that isn’t very reliable to a luxury model with bells and whistles you may never even use. Some topped out at prices in the $6,000 range. And no, they weren’t gold plated.

The other thing I discovered? These devices have come a long way from the days of my grandmother’s whistling hearing aids. Like most personal technology, cutting-edge developments have made great strides when it comes to sound and hearing. Not only is what’s available more effective and user friendly, but you no longer need to spend an arm and a leg.

I checked into a few companies that produce highly rated hearing devices. One that stood out for me was MDHearingAid and their business model. In a nutshell, they make it possible to get topnotch audio technology directly, without the middleman, which brings cost way down.

As someone who considers herself to be a pretty smart shopper, that concept was appealing. When I compared numbers, I saw that every model in the MDHearingAid line came in at a fraction of the cost of similar models by other companies. In terms of possible lost income, the cost breakdown points to this being a smart investment.

It’s so easy

Since I like shopping in my living room, the idea of ordering from MDHearingAid from home was definitely a plus. When I called for information, the Customer Service representative was incredibly helpful – she told me I could call any time. But the MDHearingAid guarantee is what really stood out. The company stands behind a 100% money back guarantee. Since you can return the product within 45 days, trying out their hearing aids is totally risk free.

Does Sharon and Jeff’s story sound familiar? Could she be describing your house or life at your parents? If so, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here 24/7 to help you take that first step toward better hearing.

*www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/agerelatedhearingloss
**www.nbcnews.com/health/healthnews/