Despite recognizing the importance of hearing health as people age, seniors are still reluctant to treat hearing loss. According to an AARP-ASHA Survey: Seniors Choose to Live with Hearing Loss, eighty percent of seniors say that hearing health is important to them, but half of these respondents admitted to having untreated hearing health issues. There are a lot of reasons that people with hearing loss refuse to seek treatment. Sometimes it's a misconception about stigma of wearing hearing aids, sometimes it's fear of technology, and sometimes it's more personal reasons like a feeling of unworthiness. Often it takes a family member or close friend to push someone toward making a decision that will benefit them and their hearing. Such was the case with Trudy Gerson, who at 90 spent a lot of time refusing to treat her hearing loss despite the feelings of isolation.
"Wearing a hearing aid is associated with getting older, and people don't want to accept the fact they have hearing loss." Dr. Bendtson AARP-ASHA Survey: Seniors Choose to LIve with Hearing Loss
Trudy Gerson's first experience with hearing aids didn't happen until she was 90 years of age. Until then she simply allowed herself to become distant from family and friends or what she calls, "becoming quiet." This retreat away from close relatives and friends is often one of the major problems with untreated hearing loss. Though many people don't recognize it, the stimulation from daily interactions whether it's at the grocery store or with family and friends is one of the most important ways to help people stay younger in mind, body, and spirit.
Trudy would often ask her daughter to repeat what people were saying. At first her daughter cooperated, but she quickly realized this was a mistake. In becoming the crutch for her mother, she was allowing her mother to continue to ignore her own hearing loss. Finally her daughter confronted her mother about the burden of having to repeat everything, and together they decided it was time to see an audiologist.
"I went and had my hearing tested and to my surprise, I missed many words in the speech test. The audiogram graph indicated a hearing loss."
As is often the case with people who have a hearing loss, the proof of their hearing deficit is often a shock. Many people with hearing loss have no idea how much of life and sound they miss until they are tested. Despite Trudy's reluctance to spend money treating her hearing loss, her family insisted that her hearing health was important. They valued her interaction and weren't willing to let her drift from the family when there was advanced technology available to improve her hearing.
Three years later, Trudy is 93 and she tells People Hearing Better, "I don’t miss any words in the conversations. I hear my great-grandchildren, grandchildren, children and friends on the telephone. I hear the gossip at our pool, the bidding at my bridge game, and conversations in restaurants. I hear the thunder outside, fire alarms, and even the humming of my refrigerator. The hearing instruments really help me with my day-to-day activities.
Most people can’t even tell that I am wearing hearing instruments. I tell all my friends that I wear hearing instruments and they should wear them too! I don’t know why I waited so long to get the hearing instruments as I am more confident, social and comfortable now with my hearing improved. Take it from me, it was worth the investment to hear well."
Thanks, Trudy for sharing your story. It's inspiring to know that treating hearing loss at any age is important and improves individual quality of life. You certainly led by example. It's never too late to enjoy the fullness of sounds and daily interactions the world has to offer. Don't wait another moment, contact a hearing health professional and begin your journey back to yourself and your family.
Personal stories may have been edited for ease of reading, tone and content.