One particular patient of mine has worn a hearing aid in his left ear for decades despite the fact that his right ear would benefit from amplification as well. To him, wearing one hearing aid is something he can accept but two devices makes him feel disabled. He believes that people will look at him wearing two hearing aids and automatically think lesser of him. In response to this, I asked him what people said about the fact he used a cane to walk. His answer: “People either don’t notice it, they don’t mention it, or they don’t care. Sometimes, they take special care to help me because they know my motion is limited.” BINGO! His statement aligned perfectly with what I wanted him to know about hearing aids. I like to think that a hearing aid can suggest to another person that the wearer may need some additional help. This does not mean pity or disdain but rather that the speaker will consider the wearer’s communication difficulties and attempt to overcome them. Why should a person risk placing themselves at a disadvantage in order to improve someone else’s perception of them?
To paraphrase Golden Girls, “It’s not a hearing aid that makes you old; it’s all the things you’re missing by not getting one.”