But, when it comes to age-related hearing loss, the process is so gradual, it can continue for years before you notice a problem. And, the little jokester makes sure you embarrass yourself along the way before it dawns on you. My father, whom the jokester had under his control for ages, was once asked by my mother if he wanted his sweat pants. To which he replied, somewhat stunned, “No, I didn’t wet my pants!” (The jokester just loves this kind of thing.)
Why do people start to misunderstand what’s being said as they grow older? Why does it sound like everyone is mumbling, instead of speaking clearly? It has to do with the fact that, instead of all the tones you hear waning at the same time, the jokester starts off making the high-pitched sounds hard to hear. These sounds are consonant sounds, such as “s” “t” “l” and “p”. So, when you’re listening to someone and can’t see their face, or don’t know what the topic is about, you can misunderstand and make mistakes. Did the person just say “pot”, “top”, “a lot” or “stop”? Being unsure leads to answering a question, or responding to a statement, inappropriately. Clearly hearing consonants is essential to comprehension.
While consonants provide clarity and intelligibility, vowels give speech energy and loudness. Vowels are the bass control while consonants are the treble. How many times have you heard a boom box in a car that’s far away? What are you hearing? All the energy, all the bass. You can’t tell what the song is, or hear the words, but hearing the thump, thump, thump of the bass is no problem. So, when a hearing loss begins in the higher pitches, you end up hearing the loudness, but not the intelligibility. Loudness with no intelligibility results in a sound that resembles mumbling!
So, if you think everyone is mumbling, or if you’re answering questions and getting an odd look or two, it’s time to get your hearing checked. It‘s easy. And, a lot more fun than letting the jokester make a fool out of you.