Dear Mr. Dad: I’m concerned about my mom. She’s in her mid 60s and her hearing has been getting worse and worse. She doesn’t participate in family discussions as much as she used to and she isn’t nearly as engaged with my children. I’ve suggested getting hearing aids but she refuses to--she says they’ll make her look old. Is there anything we can do?A: Overall, about 11 percent of the U.S population has some hearing loss. And your mother is among the 28 million Americans over 50 who suffer from it. Unfortunately, more than half of these people have never had their hearing tested and five out of every six who could benefit from treatment—including your mother—don’t get it. Doctors usually don’t ask about hearing in routine physicals and the average hearing impaired person waits 5-10 years before finally going in to see an audiologist.
Among the top excuses for not getting fitted for hearing aids are: “It’s a sign of weakness” (from men), “it makes you look old” (from women), “it makes you look stupid,” “it’s too embarrassing,” and “it’s too expensive.”
While those stereotypes are hard to shake, there are a number of points you should tell your mom about. Hopefully they’ll encourage her to get her hearing checked—and to wear hearing aids if they’re prescribed.
Hearing is a use-it-or-lose-it kind of thing. If the parts of the brain that process sound don’t get stimulated enough, they can permanently lose their ability to function. Fortunately, hearing aids may be able to reverse some of that hearing loss or at least stop it from getting any worse.
If your mom is still working, her hearing loss could hurt her productivity and performance and may even cost her her job, according to Sergei Kochkin, PhD, executive director of the Better Hearing Institute (BHI). People with severe, untreated hearing loss are about twice as likely to be unemployed as those with normal hearing or who wear hearing aids.
Hearing loss has already hurt your mother’s quality of life—and things could get worse. Adults with uncorrected hearing loss have higher rates of depression and anxiety, and lower cognitive function than the rest of the population. Wearing hearing aids can improve all of those conditions.
Even mild hearing loss triples the risk of falling, according Dr. Frank Lin and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins University. There may also be an association between hearing loss and some chronic physical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and Alzheimer’s. Dr. Lin found that individuals with mild hearing loss were twice as likely to develop dementia as those with normal hearing. Those with moderate hearing loss were three times more likely, and those with severe loss had five times the risk. However, this is a classic case of causation vs. correlation: Is hearing loss causing those conditions or vice versa? Or could a condition that causes one also be responsible for causing the other? The jury’s still out. But there’s no question that hearing loss is a direct contributor to the psychological and quality of life issues mentioned above.
If none of this is enough to sway your mom, at least try to get her to take the free, online hearing check offered by the BHI at www.hearingcheck.org. It’s confidential, takes about five minutes to complete, and, if she answers the questions honestly, should give her a pretty clear understanding of how severe her hearing loss is and whether she could benefit from seeing a hearing specialist.
MrDad Shopping Cart
Your cart is empty
"Ask Mr. Dad" Archives
“Right from the beginning of this book, I found myself circling things and highlighting like mad, and saying to my wife: ‘hey! listen to this!’…. An excellent resource for any man who is truly interested in doing a real man's job: Being an involved father to his children.”
—Parent Blogger's Network
“This is a great book that is relevant. Honestly, it is not just for Dads, but awesome for Fathers. A book that really does show the practical ways to interact, become involved and learn more about what is going on with your child.”
—Fresh Brewed Blog
“I enjoyed the whole tone of the book which didn't, like many Mommy-focused books, use fear or guilt. I particularly enjoyed the wit of Brott's writing style.”
“Not only does this book talk about the special relationships between a father and his kids, it also gives us mommies some great information as well. You will find a wealth of information written in a way that will keep your interest."
"This, thankfully, is not another one of those goofy, dumbed-down books (think sports metaphors and caveman references) that make such amusing--but unhelpful--gifts for dads. In fact, this is as informative as any traditional parenting book out there (including those aimed at the moms), and in some ways even better.
“Armin Brott, who brought us his insightful fathering series, continues to encourage men and their families with wisdom and wit in Father for Life.”
“If you haven't read Father for Life, you are missing something. Brott does a sensational job describing the journey of a father. It's funny, informative, and additional stress relief...”
—Ken Swarner, Ph.D., author of Whose Kids Are These Anyway?
“An essential guide for every dad.”
"Strikingly clear and easy to navigate... Armin’s effortless and honest conversational style of writing takes the reader through a large amount of incredibly valuable information with smooth sailing."
"I bought this book a few years ago and find myself going back and reading it every 6 months or so. Inspires me to try and be a better dad."
If you're facing a challenge that requires a unique, customized solution, Mr. Dad does coaching for individuals or families.