Hearing loss is a natural part of aging, isn't it?

By Dr. Anne Simon

November 10, 2018

Hearing can wane as we age. This is one reason why I recommend regular audiologic examinations after the age of 40. How you address hearing loss is important. What hearing loss can cost you is sometimes swept under the rug. “Age-appropriate” can be useful when predicting when a child will learn to tie his own shoe laces. It can cause trouble when used to defer the decision to treat hearing loss. Hearing loss is never “age-appropriate.” My grandmother’s hearing was completely normal at age 90.

Asking at what age hearing is no longer vital is like asking at what age companionship is no longer necessary. You could compare the need to hear with the need to experience any of the other senses (sight, smell, taste, touch). But, our hearing is most important to relationships. It is the sense that most contributes to our ability to engage with others.

If hearing is difficult, this impairs your ability to listen. If you can’t listen effectively, this impairs your ability to understand. If your partner doesn’t feel heard or understood, intimacy suffers. Companionship depends on that sense of intimacy.

I hold my grandfather, we called him Daddy Mike, as an exemplar. He had hearing loss, but would not let it hinder his relationships. He was genuinely interested in what you thought and what you had to say. He was emotionally engaged and as sharp as a tack until his very last days at age 94.

Hearing loss, no matter what your age, need not inhibit your engagement with those you care the most about. Relationships—loving, intimate relationships—can make your ‘golden’ years fulfilling and meaningful.

I was delighted and privileged to treat Daddy Mike’s hearing loss. I would be just as delighted to treat yours. If you or a loved one are experiencing hearing loss, call my office at 208-746-7022.

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