Hearing Loss and the Sounds of a Lifetime

Favorite sounds?  Do you have them?

When my good friend Gail Crane was a little girl, she loved  listening to her mother’s singing, the chirping of birds,  the Mickey Mouse song (M-I-C, K-E-Y),  her Chatty Cathy doll, and the voices of her friends.

As a teenager, Gail relished the Beatles, The Troggs, and Simon and Garfunkel; her friends’ voices, especially on the telephone; the cheering and yelling at the football and basketball games;  and the band music that helped her dance team, the Spartanettes, step lively.

Her favorite sounds now include the cooing of a baby, children’s laughter, the voices of family and friends, oldies music, the meowing and purring of her cats, and the happy rhythms of a tap dancer’s feet.

Sound is becoming even more precious to Gail because she has Meniere’s Diseasewhich is causing her to lose her hearing in her left ear.

How does hearing loss affect her work?

Gail writes, “My job is answering the phone and setting up appointments.  I have to put the phone at my right ear only.  It is really distracting when others in the room are talking at the same time.  I am increasingly getting numbers and letters wrong in names, etc.”

How does hearing loss affect her social life?

She says, “I need to remember to sit with others sitting to my right if possible. Otherwise I often feel left out of the conversation.”

What are the biggest frustrations associated with hearing loss?

Gail reports, ” Needing the TV turned up louder than others want or need it.  Seeing the frustration in others when they have to repeat what they say to you.  Not knowing what direction a sound comes from.”

The American Hearing-Speech Language Association is sponsoring a Speak Up About Hearing Loss Campaign.

As Gail’s friend, I’m pleased she speaks up about her hearing loss. I’m glad to sit on the side that’s best for  conversation. I’m happy to meet for dinner at a restaurant where the noise levels are low. I’m very willing to speak louder or more slowly.

Not everyone is as open as Gail is about hearing loss. If there’s someone in your life  who seems to be having trouble hearing, you may need to be the one to speak up first.

Approach your parent or spouse or friend about seeking professional help and taking a hearing test. While Gail told me that a hearing aid won’t help her ailing ear, they do wonders in many situations. She says, “Get a really good hearing aid–otherwise you become increasingly isolated.”

Speak up!  Don’t let your loved one  miss out on the sounds of a lifetime. And if you’re experiencing hearing loss yourself, speak up about your own difficulties.

To find a certified audiologist in your area, search this site of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association

ASHA’s website offers a wealth of information and resources, including a very user-friendly search feature:

In the photo below, Gail’s at her high school reunion in Connersville, Indiana getting ready to reminisce with the Spartanettes. Thanks, Gail, for your help with this post.

(I wrote this blog post while participating in a campaign by on behalf of ASHA and received payment for my participation. All opinions stated within are my own.)

21 thoughts on “Hearing Loss and the Sounds of a Lifetime”

  1. There’s such a stigma about hearing loss. This is an important issue -thanks for bringing attention to it in such a humane way. My mother has hearing loss and my father acts as if it’s a character flaw. I think overall our generation and younger ones, are much more accepting of disabilities than our parents’ generation.

    1. You are right about the stigma! Even at our house, if I ask folks to repeat, they often get annoyed. We’ve got to work to change this.

      1. I taught a student who looked exactly like Chatty Cathy – right down to the glossy blond hair and the perfectly placed freckles.

  2. I’ve seen the changes in my mother due to hearing loss. It’s limits participation in family gatherings because even good hearing aids can’t mimic natural hearing. I hope research improves these aids before I need one! Thanks for an important post!

    1. We recently had a family dinner in a loud restaurant. My mom commented several times afterwards how frustrating it was not to be able to hear the conversation. She’s got hearing aids, but it’s still very hard for her to hear in certain situations.

  3. Wonderful reminder, Barbara. This is not something we should ignore or assume it’s just part of growing old. I heeded your advice and had my ears checked carefully when I had my last full physical as I was feeling like my hearing was deteriorating. Thankfully we discovered I simply had an excessive amount of wax build up!

    As to your initial question, my most favorite sound of all these days is hearing my 6-month old granddaughter laugh out loud!

  4. My dad gradually lost his hearing and eventually couldn’t hear the smoke alarm screaming out at his house. He was just sitting in his recliner acting like everything was fine. He had no idea at all that it was going off. That is a safety issue for sure. Then after his stroke, he lost almost all of his hearing. He went to the local coffee shop every morning with his buddies but was unable to take part in the conversation. Why say anything when you can’t hear a response back. He was totally isolated from the conversation. So sad.

    1. Yes, so sad, but I bet he still got comfort and companionship from his trips to the coffee shop, especially among old friends.

  5. How sad and frustrating. I often wear ear plugs at the gym (while hardly anyone else does) because it sometimes feels as though the loud music is bursting my ear drums. I still feel as though I have hearing loss from all those years when I didn’t wear the plugs. I find it interesting that no one else in the classes seems to think about this. (Or perhaps they don’t want to look “uncool.” )I imagine one day they will all be deaf!

    1. Do you remember in elementary school when we’d have to take the hearing test? I thought it was so much fun listening to the cool sounds.

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