Say What?

May 17

Huh? Whaddya Say?


Do you believe your ears? Or my eyes? Because that’s what I read in The New York Times, and would they lie to a nice person such as myself? I think not.

One thing I know for sure is that the hearing aids of today are not the gross and ugh-inspiring models of the past. They have changed radically, and so have the users.

Remember how, in our callow youth (oh, go on and admit it, you were callow then too), we snickered at the old-fashioned hearing aids that were big and ugly and had wires coming down the back of the head. It makes the poor soul wearing them look weird—and old. The hearing aids of today are nothing like that. You can’t see them unless you know they’re there, or get extremely friendly with the human person sporting them. They even color coordinate them with your hair!

BTW: The person wearing them may not be “fabulous, funny, and over fifty”— but younger. Seems like our parent’s warning that listening to all that loud music would make us deaf was actually correct.

Cut to Annie Hall, where Alfie utters  the now famous words to his buddy Rob,

“Sun is bad for you. Everything our parents said was good is bad. Sun, milk, red meat…college.”

Too true. But it turns out that our folks were spot on about ear-splitting music.The Centers of Disease Control Prevention reports that “By the time they’re 30, a fifth of Americans today have had their hearing damaged by noise.”

Ergo, the users of hearing aids have also changed. They’re younger. Much younger. Some are in their 30’s and 40’s. One man in the article started using hearing aids when he was just a lad of 7!  Well, I guess he had a hearing problem from birth, and didn’t get it from listening to loud music— unless, of course, his parents played Led Zeppelin instead of Mozart while he was still in the womb. However, after suffering with the old clunky models for years, that guy,now in his twenties, proudly calls his new hearing aids “sexy.” And describes them as very expensive Air Pods.

About expensive: well, yes. The new hearing aids, which are virtually invisible, are available to all, but affordable only to some, cost a pretty penny. (And if you know that expression, you’re probably adjusting your hearing aids as we speak.) Mine cost nearly $6000, which included a cool recharging device that I just had to have. Of course, that’s in New York City. The article mentions that the expensive ones average about $4000, and I’ve heard tell that you can get some pretty good ones at Costco for less. But on top of that, insurance (for mine) is nearly $600 a year (you heard that right).  I suspect that hearing aids (and the insurance) will all go down in price when there’s more and more competition. And more and more users.

But the point of the article in the Times, and my post as well, is that hearing aids are not just for old people anymore. Besides, there is no stigma attached to wearing glasses, so why should we be embarrassed about wearing hearing aids?


If not, Do Not Pass GO! Proceed immediately to an audiologist near you. And then, fitted with the newest, smallest, and dare I say it, sexiest hearing aid known to man/woman/whoever you want to be, you’ll be able to tune in to the latest gossip.  And, for the first time in ages, you’ll hear what they’re saying about you behind your back.

OTOH: Maybe it’s better if you don’t know. Ya hear what I’m saying?


  1. Louise Gikow /

    Thanks, sweetie! I missed the article, and you’ve made me feel SO much better about my soon needing one…tho I think I’ll try to wait till the price goes down!

    • Pat /

      You don’t have to wait! I’m pretty sure that you can get less expensive ones that work right now. Go to audiologist and find out.

  2. Excuse me-what did you say? But seriously. I lost all hearing in my right ear after that brain surgery. Made it difficut to sing onstage. Now that the stage is no longer available, I’ve gotten used to it. The only thing that bothers me is this. When you lose hearing in 1 ear you can no longer tell where the sound is coming from. Drag! I suppose that’s why folk’s with this situation always complain about trying to hear friends talk in crowded restaurants. I wish a hearing aid would help-but that’s not happening. BTW-I love your column!

    • Pat /

      I love that you love my column. Thank you for saying that.
      Meanwhile, I’ve had a struggle with hearing aids because they made me feel old, even with the ones that you can’t see. Reading about younger people having to wear them and having no problem with it, helped. But “sexy?” Not there yet, but at least I feel better about them. And yes, I have reading glasses, and had the eye surgery for cataracts. I can now see the color blue. No, really. I have 3 pairs of dark jeans in my closet that were advertised as “Midnight,” and before the surgery (which I was terrified about but turned out to be easy), I thought they were black. Colors are brighter and crisper now, and I didn’t think of getting my eyes fixed as age-related, although, of course, it was. It has been the damn hearing aids that have given me pause. But I’ll get over it.
      And yes, your comment came through.

  3. Patricia Cisarano /

    I hope my comment came through!

  4. Louis Venezia /

    So I said to my otolaryngologist “High-pitched sounds seem to block out my hearing. If I am running water in the sink I cannot hear anything that my wife says”. He responded to this clinical symptom by saying “Gee, I have to try that”. What a dilemma, to get hearing aids or not to get them, that is the question :-).

    • Pat /

      You can get a hearing aid, then turn them off when you don’t want to hear. Unlike most of life, you can have it both ways. Be sure to tell your otolaryngologist.

  5. Carmen Mason /

    I urge anyone who feels she or he needs hearing aids or is encouraged by family and friends to go to have one’s hearing checked and to look up the latest findings of The Mayo Clinic, Harvard and Johns Hopkins’ research centers to see what has been found out relating to aphasia and dementia. A dear friend of mine refused to a few years ago and regrets it to this day.

  6. Bob /

    Ah .. the joys of aging, right?
    So far, so good in the hearing but I’m sure it’s coming.

    • Pat /

      They will never be as sexy (or cute) as you, Bob! But they’re better than the used to be, which is more than I can say for most of us.

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