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I use my ears for more than hanging earrings.


It’s been brought to my attention lately by my children, and by other young people in my life, that I say “Excuse me?” or “I’m so sorry, but I didn’t catch that,” and “What?” as much as I say, “Hi!” or “I’ll have a Chardonnay.”

I have noticed that I pump up the volume to ear-splitting levels when listening to music in my car or on my phone. And my television is turned up to number 25 or more. (Uh – like the movies! I explain to other people in the room who question the volume.)

And that little voice in one ear that was urging me to get my hearing tested (I believe the last time I had a hearing test was 1980-something), went right out the other.

But apparently poo-pooing a potential compromise in hearing is not unusual. Hearing loss is among the most untreated of the age-related disabilities. It seems that for us 50-somethings, as long we can hear the human voices around us, we tend to peg any auditory decline as not in our ears, but in the soft-talkers among us and the increasingly noisy world that we live in.

But, hear ye, my skeptics – I finally heard you. I tested the ears. And I’m normal. I guess I just like loud.

I found this cool hearing test offered by The National Hearing Test. May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, so the test is free (it costs only $8 regularly). It’s done over the phone (landline only) – call 866-223-7575 – and it takes about 20 minutes. You put one ear at a time to the phone, and punch in the numbers recited by a recorded voice amid static, which rapidly increases throughout the test. At completion, you are told whether or not your hearing in each ear is in the “normal range.”

And for those of you who may know someone like me, where broaching the subject of hearing fell on deaf ears, there’s a nifty little offering from The Center for Hearing and Communication (CHC) in New York and Florida. Check out Soundgram. You record a message to your loved one, and CHC will notify them that there is a message waiting for them, along with an offer for a free hearing screening at one of their locations. Your recorded message will be played for them at their free screening.

So listen up; take heed. Take the test. Send a Soundgram. And like me, either assure yourself that frequently saying, “What?,” means that you’re annoying (or as my son said when I shouted my test results, “Then maybe you have ADD?”), not hearing-impaired, or, if the test suggests your hearing is not in the normal range, go to an audiologist for further testing and treatment.

Studies show that ignoring hearing loss can lead to Dementia and Alzheimer’s – why rush those? There’s sophisticated technology out there for the taking – for free – to ease concerns, to diagnose hearing impairment and to treat accordingly.