As often happens beginning when I first encountered Ronni Bennett’s writing at her blog “Time Goes By” eleven or so years ago, her words often prompt me to think about the topic or associated matters introduced. Her subject (11/13/17) discussing hearing loss and using hearing aids prompted me to make this comment though edited which I’m sharing here in case readers didn’t see it there.
I’ve long believed aids to sensory system losses should be regarded as a fundamental health care need. We are the information our brain receives through our senses -- just as the ability to communicate in some form or another is vital to our well-being, whatever our physical state. Our priorities seem not to recognize these facts until we begin to lose these abilities at any age, though the older we become the more prone to their functional decline we are.
What that means is — eye care, including glasses ..... ear care and hearing ..... are two senses of critical importance to our retaining a healthy mental — cognitive status. Maintaining this state holds special significance as we age -- our bodies start to reflect the wear and tear of living -- and the ability to communicate — hearing and speaking to express our needs, wants and feelings — becomes increasingly vital.
For many years, at least in earlier generations, people disdained wearing glasses and were often the butt of disparaging jokes i.e. called “four eyes” and other terms, just as many others with various disabilities were subjected to put-downs. We seem to have become more accepting of glasses use, but many people are still too proud to use hearing aids, or are in denial they have hearing loss — often blaming others for not speaking clearly or loudly enough.
Also, many with hearing loss, or those who communicate with them, don’t use the techniques needed to best enable their hearing with what residual hearing they have. As a Speech-Language-Hearing Pathologist (retired now) I have additionally provided services for individuals with hearing loss, some with their family members, and others — to best maximize hearing aid use and benefits.
The first thing to understand is that not all hearing loss is amenable to correction simply by amplification. Purchasing amplifying hearing aids would obviously be of little benefit for some in that case. Having hearing evaluated by a licensed and certified American Speech-Language-Hearing (ASHA) Audiologist who is trained to identify not only hearing loss types, but also possible medical issues requiring further medical assessment is recommended, as opposed to hearing assessments provided by some businesses simply testing and selling hearing aids.
My experience has been that too many people expect hearing aid(s) will return their hearing to be exactly as it was before the loss. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Numerous factors come into play, and the brain processing of information that the ear mechanism receives with the help of the aid(s) must be relearned in the brain.
(Darlene’s description in her TGB blog comment describing the challenge she’s had appreciating music again is an example of that process, though speech sounds are processed in different brain areas and are more amenable to intelligible adaptation.)
For the brain to best adapt to the hearing aided sounds -- the individual needs to wear the hearing aids over time. All too often when my services were requested the hearing aid(s) had been spending most of their time in the drawer as others report in their TGB comments. Also, the individual with hearing loss did not know how to compensate for the aid(s) short-comings, or what they needed to educate their friends and family to understand about how to best communicate with them. Or, those same caring family didn’t pay attention to what was needed and my patient’s hope was they might listen if they had a professional explain it to them.
Attenuation issues are a common complaint with hearing aids. Our brain has the ability to selectively focus on one speaker in a crowd while somewhat tuning out some of the crowd noise, for example. Amplification simply turns up the volume on all sounds. Aid users must learn through use and practice how to accommodate and adapt to making their aid(s) work best for them in all situations. Considering our individual unique perceiving skills, doing so will vary to some extent for users depending on how they respond to the differing hearing situations they’re in, their hearing loss and possibly the type aid they have.
I note from what users have written in comments at TGB that the hearing aids promoted as having attenuation capabilities leave much to be desired. This should be a cautionary tale to explore their limitations with a competent professional before purchasing.
All that said, using hearing aids can be a godsend for those with hearing loss and those with whom they interact. Given the technological knowledge and skills in this nation, high quality inexpensive hearing aids should be available to everyone with hearing loss who needs them.
Me too! That exclamation supports what far too many individuals around the world experience. Here in the U.S., the courageous outpouring of individuals revealing the pain and mental suffering they’ve experienced -- afraid to protest against those who have harassed, molested or physically assaulted them at some time during their life time.
Nothing angers me more than those whose ignorance causes them to condemn individuals finally feeling able to safely identify their perpetrators, sometimes from decades earlier in their life. I hear the condemners of those who have been violated disparage them by saying, “Why didn’t they come forward to report it immediately after it happened?” – therefore, they make the erroneous assumption the act, whatever it was, did not occur.
I can personally vouch for the fact that revealing having been harassed, been aware of others harassed, molested or groomed for assault and naming the perpetrator is as authentic in reporting whether doing so occurs immediately afterward, 77 years later, or on any given day in between! That does allow that some effort can be made to authenticate the report.
In my case, I only recently learned the perpetrator of one of my unsolicited events was convicted twenty years later following other persons experience. He had ascended to a high position in a trusted life-saving caregiving position by that time. I have wondered how many unrevealed others there were in the interim following me and before them?
Thought to be a first time offender and such a credit to society in his work position, I think he may have been released. That has led me to wonder how many more since then? I’ve concluded given what his age must be now, he must surely have expired or is physically harmless.
Lest you ask, he has lived across country from me and I don’t intend to invest my time or money into tracking him down now. Had I known about all this years ago I most certainly would have contacted authorities there then.
I won't describe a number of my additional experiences, or that of others I know to be fact, but a startling though minor one to me at the time was the occasion years ago I was waiting at a crowded crosswalk on a famed street in San Francisco, California and received an unsolicited buttocks grope – supposedly to be interpreted by the groper as a compliment, I gather, much as I’m told routinely occurs in Italy, possibly other select European cities and cultures. Knowing what is harmless and what is not isn't always easily determined and can be learned by some too late.
Our Offender-in-Chief has hardly modeled morally desired behavior for persons in power based on documented reports of numerous instances in his adult life as he self-described.. Though this was known before his election, a minority of this nation’s electorate still voted for him – some, reported to be of strict but hypocritical religious moral beliefs, ironically, continue to support him.
There may be hope that his supporters are decreasing in numbers. Desperation, due to increasing threats to his credibility and legitimacy, has motivated him to resort to his standard playbook of instigating distraction, deflection and attack, as usual, in such circumstances.
He has enlisted his partisan appointee Attorney General (shades of Nixon/Mitchell) to pursue questionable accusations involving a foundation associated with the candidate who opposed him in last year’s election. I’m left to wonder if the Russians are coming and/or the kitchen is beginning to get a mite too warm for him given investigations of him and his family. .