Can You Hear the Wind?

The first time my husband received a cross over hearing aid, he was astonished when we stepped outside the doctor’s office. “Do you hear that,” he asks. “What?” I asked. “The wind,” he said. “I can hear the sound of the wind.” Most people take hearing for granted until they lose it. My husband is deaf in his left ear due to a severe injury he sustained as a child. He lost much of the hearing in his right ear when he served in Viet Nam. A crossover hearing aid is a hearing aid that you wear on your deaf ear like an ordinary behind-the-ear hearing aid. It picks up sound from The first time my husband received a cross over hearing aid, he was astonished when we stepped outside the doctor's office. your surroundings and transmits it over to a hearing aid on your other ear. I have many friends who have hearing loss; some of them wear hearing aids, some refuse or live in denial that they need one. Think about all the sounds in your life; birds singing in the morning, a child laughing, a friend chatting, or a great song on the radio – it is this symphony of sounds that make life more abundant. Having hearing loss tends to isolate people from others: When you have to struggle to converse, you’re less likely to want to socialize in groups or go out to restaurants.

My neighbor told me she doesn’t like to be in big groups because she can’t hear much and often feels left out of the conversations. There is a social road that people who are hard of hearing go down. First, they strain to hear; they try as hard as they can. Then they pretend to hear, often answering all the questions and comments wrongly. Then they sit there and try to be a part of the social group just with their presence. And usually, lastly, they give up and withdraw or retreat unto themselves. This begins their social isolation. This social isolation can lead to cognitive decline and dementia, according to new research by Frank Lin, M.D., an otolaryngologist and epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Dr. Lin theorizes that two causal factors prevail. Like many Alzheimer’s experts, he pinpoints social isolation as one. “When you can’t hear the person across from you, you won’t be engaged in conversation,” says Dr. Lin. This social withdrawal leads to loneliness, which many studies have shown increases dementia risk. Another cause may be cognitive overload, he says. “When the brain expends so much energy trying to decipher garbled words, it diminishes other cognitive functions.” This does not mean that everyone who has a hearing problem develops dementia.

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Hearing aids don’t always solve the problems, especially when they don’t work correctly or batteries give out in the middle of a conversation. Sometimes the hearing aid picks up all the sounds in the room, and that, too, can be frustrating. Here are some tips that can help when communicating with someone who has hearing loss.

  • Get their attention.
  • Speak loud and clear. It is very natural for our grandchildren to use their “papa voice” when they sense that he is not hearing them. Having a grandparent who doesn’t hear well has taught our grandchildren to be sensitive to others who have hearing problems.
  • Reduce background noise if possible. In noisy restaurants, I use my phone to voice text. I speak into the phone, and it turns my voice into words, which my husband can read. It works great.
  • Make eye contact and don’t cover your mouth with your hands. Many people who don’t hear well lip read.
  • Repeat or rephrase your words if necessary
  • Be patient The thing about hearing loss is that no one can see it. People who have hearing problems are often misunderstood, considered rude, or short witted.

When someone in the family has a hearing loss, the family has a hearing problem.(Mark Ross, Ph.D.)

Hearing loss can cause a strain between couples because conversation is supposed to be a two-way process. The one who can’t hear talks, but can’t always hear the replies of his partner. Intimacy can be lost between a couple who cannot talk to each other. My husband lets me know when he is having a difficult time hearing. He says I cannot hear well today, so you must speak closely into my ear. Every time we talk like this, he holds me close to speak into his ear. Even if I am upset about something, this holding me keeps me feeling close to him. There are many excellent hearing devices available now. My husband has tried them all. Even the ones you buy at your local drug store can help. He has a Bluetooth hearing aid now. It is the best the Veterans Administration has to offer. I have a microphone I put on my jacket, or he can lay the receiver on the pulpit at church so he can hear our pastor. It automatically connects to the cell phone and the TV when he walks into the room. However, with his chronic ear infections, sometimes it doesn’t work, and he is left in total silence. Helen Keller said blindness separates us from things; deafness separates us from people.

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Deana Landers
Author for Morningcoffeebeans.com

Deana Landers has had many roles in life — Pastor’s Wife , Nurse/Health Educator, Writer and Motivational Speaker ... more