Posted on Friday, June 15, 2012

Increase Hearing Fitness

Two people running. People who use hearing aids are more active and social.

According to the Hearing is Living study, a global study conducted by Hear-the-World people who wear hearing aids are more active and social and happy than those who do not. In part, that's because people with hearing loss tend to withdraw from social situations and other interactions that increase happiness. When the ability to communicate is returned through hearing aids, many times a sense of hearing fitness and openness to the world is also returned.

People with untreated hearing loss tend to be more withdrawn, depressed, and suffer more incidents of insomnia than those who treat their hearing loss through hearing aids. In today’s post, Selma Wallack shares the moving story of her friend Ilene, a gym teacher in New York, and how her hearing aids restored her hearing fitness along with the unabashed pleasure of self-expression and community.

My dear friend, Ilene, was the most creative, energetic, efficient gym teacher in NYS. In fact, she was recognized one year as “Gym Teacher of the Year” by the state. Her students thrived and we, the faculty, were proud of her achievements. However, she seldom visited us in the lunchroom during the break, and never came to work in the common area for her preparation period. She returned our greetings politely, but did not initiate conversations. I attributed the style of behavior to her Midwestern up bringing; kind, efficient, but without the outward thrust of a New Yorker.

Wearing or not wearing a hearing aid affects not only physical fitness, but also other aspects of wellbeing. Hear-the-World

Years went by, and Ilene became more detached, albeit, with a silent warmth. One afternoon in March, after our February vacation, Ilene appeared in the faculty lunchroom. We were seated in various areas, sharing holiday experiences with fellow teachers. After a brief greeting, Ilene pulled up a chair near me without disturbing the conversations. Alan had been skiing in Colorado, Ginny went to Florida, and so the stories evolved.

The “Hearing is Living” study shows that those respondents (moderate to severe hearing loss) who do not wear a hearing aid feel sad or depressed much more frequently than the equivalent group of hearing aid owners. Hear-the-World

“I visited my family in Minnesota. I didn’t realize how much I had missed them.” Ilene added unexpectedly. No one interrupted….which was unusual for our garrulous circle of friends. She told us about her new niece, her mother’s venture into painting, and hikes in the nearby mountains. As we prepared to return to our classrooms, I heard positive comments about Ilene’s venture into socializing.

A new Ilene had emerged. We were pleased with the changes, but very curious about the event.

Everyone was polite and supportive as we silently applauded the warm, enthusiastic personality that was such a shocking contrast. Two weeks away from school was hardly enough time to have made such a drastic personality change, so I asked her about the unusual change.

“It sounds like a miracle, and in some ways it is," Ilene shared with me, her supportive friend. “I had minor surgery, followed by the fitting of hearing aids in both ears. I am not basically a shy person, but the last few years I found myself withdrawing from people, because I was fearful of misunderstanding their words, or sounding stupid in my responses. My work with the children was not affected particularly, because of the nature of our activities. But, Selma, I cannot tell you how grateful I feel for the changes those hearing aides have made in my life. I can be a whole person, a sharing person. I feel as if I've discovered hearing fitness. I am back in the world!”

Thank you Selma and you too, Ilene, for sharing this wonderful story. People Hearing Better is proud to be a part of relating this story that demonstrates clearly how increasing hearing fitness by using hearing aids can result in a happier and more outgoing life.

If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

*Personal stories may have been edited for tone or content.

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