My dad, 69, just took the plunge and visited an audiologist to discuss his hearing loss and hearing aid options. He was kind enough to share his experience with me. For the record, he is a pretty blunt guy and not very effusive, so he’s a good source when you want someone to shoot you straight.
DISCLAIMER: My dad did not go to a Beltone Hearing Center
MB: So, what made you decide to finally get hearing aids?
Dad: (Chuckles) You and your sister. I guess I have had a hard time hearing higher-pitched voices for awhile. The background noise definitely would interfere.
MB: But it took a little while for you to do it. I mean, we have been mentioning this to you for a while.
Dad: Probably five years ago, I was told by a hearing center back in Cleveland that I was legally deaf after taking their hearing test. I was offended! I told the guy, “well, I heard your comment perfectly.” Then I left without doing anything more with them.
I did think there was some basis to what you and your sister were saying, but I also thought you two were full of it. I didn’t feel it was really affecting me in life, and I wasn’t ready to deal with it yet.
MB: So you waited five years. Then what made you decide it was time to go see someone again?
Dad: I started noticing at work that I was asking people to repeat themselves quite a bit. But I still put off doing anything, because I was moving to Colorado. And, I still didn’t think my hearing was “that bad.”
I started thinking about it again, because you guys kept bugging me. But finally did something about it, because it was getting harder and harder for me to understand people in a critical way, and I didn’t like that.
MB: Were you fearful of taking the hearing test or of what you might find out?
Dad: I didn’t have any fear about taking the test. But, I didn’t really want to get hearing aids, because of my vanity mostly. I didn’t want to look old, or seem old to people. One day, I saw an ad for a hearing aid and decided to make an appointment.
MB: So you’ve tried a few different types now, right? What are your thoughts?
Dad: Yeah, I’ve tried two different ones now and am going in to try out another this Friday. The first one was very small and was mostly hidden. I liked that about it, but I found that I experienced a sort of muffled feeling more with that one.
MB: It’s called the occlusion effect. People say it sounds kind of like they are talking into a barrel. Sometimes they feel pressure in their ears.
Dad: Yeah, that’s it. They told me it has to do with venting, and some hearing aid models are easier to vent, I guess. With the ones I am trying out now, I notice that less. They are also molded to my ear but are more visible. I also seem to have some more feedback with these ones. Mechanical sounds seem louder. The next ones I am trying are titanium rather than acrylic. They are a little smaller and set back further into your ear. So we’ll see.
MB: How have you found the process? Has anything surprised you? Is there anything you wish you had known before doing this?
Dad: It’s actually been a pretty frustrating experience for me. I think that’s because I went into it thinking my hearing would be completely restored, just like it was before I started losing it. I was surprised that hearing aids don’t completely resolve hearing loss or allow you to hear like you once did. So I think that was disappointing for me.
I wish that was discussed prior to trying out the hearing aids. I would’ve liked them to tell me this will really improve your hearing, but it won’t be like it was before. That way, I could’ve gone into it with realistic expectations. I think it’s important for people to understand that there are trade offs you have to make. Certain models are more discreet but may cause other issues that the larger, more old-fashioned ones don’t.
MB: Are you glad that you did it, despite that realization?
Dad: Yeah, my hearing was getting progressively worse. It was becoming a huge handicap for me. I definitely wouldn’t want to go back to life without a hearing aid. And, I have to admit, I notice it less and less.
MB: For me, I like not having to talk so loud anymore, especially when we are out in public. I can tell you can follow my stories better now. Before you used the hearing aid, I would sometimes be in the middle of a story and notice a glazed over look in your eyes, like you had no clue what I was talking about. And I’m happy that as Blake (my daughter) gets older, you will be able to hear her little high-pitched voice.
Dad: Can’t argue with that!
Are you ready to start your journey to better hearing? Make an appointment with a hearing care professional today.