Are you one of the millions of women who color their graying hair and eradicate their frown lines, but passively accept hearing loss as an inevitable part of aging? I’m not. I hated pretending to follow conversations in noisy restaurants, or asking my friends over and over to repeat what one of the actors said in a movie. So, I added hearing aids to my accessories wardrobe about seven years ago, and I love them as much as my hair colorist and dermatologist. While I think red hair and smooth skin perk up my appearance, I know my hearing aids energize my overall sense of well-being.
My former mother-in-law, an elegant woman whose physical appearance was a priority, didn’t want “unsightly contraptions” protruding from her ears, no matter how much her hearing declined as she aged. But we’re not our mothers (or mothers-in-law), and hearing aids are no longer unattractive. They’re chic, as a matter of fact. Besides, turning a deaf ear to what your own ears are telling you is not only unsexy. It’s unwise. And, it’s not something I’d ever have expected from the women in my generation who have spent their lives jumping through hoops to solve problems and get what they wanted.
Please consider these facts from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
➡ About 11 percent of adults aged 50 to 59 have disabling hearing loss, which increases to approximately 25 percent of those aged 60 to 69, and 50 percent in the population over 75 years old.
➡ About 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from wearing hearing aids.
➡ Among adults 70 and older with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than one in three has ever used them.
This is one case where being in the majority can be a major mistake. A study of 1,984 volunteers in their 70s and 80s by hearing experts at Johns Hopkins revealed:
➡ Older adults with hearing loss are more likely to develop problems thinking and remembering than those whose hearing is normal.
➡ Levels of declining brain function were directly linked to the amount of hearing decline.
➡ Hearing loss often leads to social isolation, and it’s been proven that loneliness is a risk factor for cognitive issues.
➡ Hearing loss also affects balance and puts you at four times greater risk for falling.
You don’t have to make a full-fledged commitment to get hearing aids right this minute. But for goodness sakes, at least have your hearing checked by a qualified audiologist if you suspect you have issues. It first got my attention when I thought my hairdresser said I was wearing “autumn” colors in the dead of summer, although he actually said “Auburn” (as in the name of the university). Mistaking words that sound similar is a common sign that something might be amiss with your hearing. Hearing only half a word is another.
There are about 12,000 licensed audiologists in the United States, so it’s likely you can find one near you. The hearing test takes about 30 minutes and is painless. You’ll sit in a small room wearing headphones and listen to a series of sounds and sometimes words. Click here to schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional.
BIG NEWS FOR WOMEN WHO DON’T WANT TO MISS A SINGLE WORD
If you’re like me, and already enjoy the undeniable benefits of hearing aids, you’re going to be excited to learn about a new hearing aid called Signia Pure Charge&Go X. It’s the most technologically advanced device on the market, and after trying it out, I can’t wait to own a pair. Simply put, these hearing aids feature the first acoustic-motion sensors in the world, which means they’ll automatically adapt to every sound situation I might experience throughout the day.
Let’s say I’m going from my home to the subway and then to a business meeting, followed by a pilates class and dinner at a packed New York restaurant. Pure Charge&Go X will give me “natural and personalized sound” from any direction, even while I’m on the move. I’ll be able to understand speech and hear sounds coming from all around me, wherever I am and whatever I’m doing. If I closed my eyes at the beach, for instance, I’d hear the waves crashing on the shore in front of me, but I’d also hear the person talking next to me.
“These hearing aids have been clinically proven to actually offer better sound quality than normal hearing,” said Lisa Perhacs, clinical education specialist at Signia. Even through Lisa’s hearing is normal, she wears her Pure Charge&Go X devices all the time, which greatly help her in noisy situations. “My younger sister, who also enjoys normal hearing, is begging me for a pair,” Lisa said.
What’s more, my new hearing aids will be rechargeable – working for 23 hours on a single charge without streaming, or up to 20 hours with five hours of streaming time – so I won’t have to worry about keeping a supply of those pesky little batteries in my bag. I’ll even be able to stream calls, music and TV audio to them, which will be terrific when I’m doing phone interviews for FabOverFifty content and watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. They’re also sleek, slim, comfortable and pretty much unnoticeable.
Sadly, most people have hearing loss for seven to 10 years before they do something about it. Audiologists tell me they wish they could unlock the secret to getting more people into their offices to have simple hearing tests. “You can’t fully appreciate the quality of your life if you’re experiencing hearing loss,” said Nancy Datino, doctor of audiology in Rye, NY. And while you need repeated Botox injections to keep your your crows feet at bay, one little pair of hearing aids will keep your hearing sharp for ever and ever.
If the audiologist thinks you could benefit from hearing aids, you’ll be able to try out the Signia Charge&Go X and other models right then and there. At least you’ll have some point of reference to understand what you’ve been missing. Unless, of course, you think it’s attractive to keep repeating, “What did you say?”