I was told I had a hearing problem at the young age of 6.
But it really wasn’t until a full year after my wife started shouting at me in earnest that I decided to finally give in and get my first set of hearing aids. That would have been approximately 42 years after I was told I had a hearing problem.
I may be a little stubborn.
You’d be surprised at how much you can understand with 10% hearing in one ear and 40% in the other. You simply have to pay attention, lean in, and look people in the eye. Sound advice for us all. The fact is, there are all sorts of lessons about hearing which I have had to learn.
So, by all means, if you happen to see me out in the world, come on up and say hello. I can hear you fine. Unless we’re in a crowded restaurant or at a loud party, then I’ll just give you a fake smile. Don’t worry; I’ll laugh at all your jokes. You’ll think you’re really funny, too. You might even walk away thinking what a great audience I am, thinking, “I’ve got to talk to David more often.” Of course, it’s just as likely that I laughed at your story about how your grandmother got hit by an ice cream truck, in which case, I apologize now in advance.
Now, when it comes to poor hearing, I’m not alone. Far from it.
26.7 million people over age 50 have a hearing impairment, and only 1 in 7, a meager 14%, use a hearing aid.
And when you get to 70, that number only increases to 1 in 3.
Across all ages, about 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from using hearing aids.
I don’t know about you, but I think those are crazy statistics. I can’t tell you how many people I personally know who say they’re hard of hearing, and yet do nothing about it. I’d give you the statistics, but it would only point out how few people I know…and then you’d just feel sorry for me.
I’m not a shrink, but outside of the cost issue, the main reason people don’t get hearing aids comes down to vanity. That ship sailed a long time ago for me. I proudly wear my hearing aids and I don’t give it a second thought.
Why do people get so caught up in the worrying about how they look? Maybe it is an issue with accepting that they are growing older. It’s hard to accept that you are not 23 anymore.
I guess I have to admit that thoughts of growing older have filled my thoughts lately as well.
Growing old is not something that I ever thought would fill my thoughts. I am keenly aware of the fact that I am not dealing with it with grace and dignity.
But… here I am, one week from my birthday and I have no choice but to accept the challenges that come with thoughts of bills, pills and hearing aid batteries.
It’s a slippery slope, my friends. Because when it comes to getting older, every day seems to be about accepting or rejecting some new normal in life. It could be knee caps that don’t quite bend the same, bladders that have minds of their own, backs that spasm when it starts to rain. It could be memory loss, declining agility, or muscle weakness. Maybe it’s diabetes with neuropathy in your feet and hands, or it could be your work life, thoughts of retirement, chronic pain, or anxiety.
These experiences and thoughts are the new normal… and they are everywhere.
Of course, we all have new challenges that come with aging. No one comes out unscathed. My own children will soon find out that they are not 23 anymore. They will soon accept that life is made up of having a comfortable chair to sit in, worrying about having enough money to pay the bills, having your prescription pills readily available and an ample supply of hearing aid batteries.
I am learning to adapt to this life of growing older. I’m not dead yet.
There still is more life to be lived… for all of us.
And we can begin that by embracing the fact that our bodies are not what they once were. And sometimes there is nothing we can do about it. But, sometimes we can do a lot, or we can do a little that feels like a lot, or enough to make a difference in the quality of our lives. Personally, my hearing aids are game-changers for which I will be forever grateful.
And tonight while I am sitting in my comfy chair, I still will worry about having enough money for the bills.
But life is good… I have my prescription pills on the ready and I do indeed have an ample supply of hearing aid batteries.