Hearing loss doesn't mean you're old; it just means your auditory system isn't functioning properly. Embrace the technology and improve your quality of life.

If it’s good enough for the Queen…

by | Jan 29, 2020 | Hearing Aids, Patient Resources

“Headline News–Queen of England suddenly old at the age of 93!” Okay, maybe that’s not an actual headline. But you wouldn’t know that from the recent coverage of Her Majesty (reportedly) wearing a small completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aid in public for the first time this past month. Why is this news?! (I ask that question about a lot of things nowadays) She’s 93, and has been around A LOT of loud sounds in her life. She trained as a mechanic and truck driver during WWII, for instance! Of course she has hearing loss, likely for a good while. The real story should be, why did it take this long for her to be observed treating her hearing loss?! Is the Queen regarded as a dotard if she’s wearing hearing aids? Why are hearing aids and hearing loss viewed as something that means you’re now “old”, something to be avoided at all costs until it can’t be ignored? For that matter, why is being ‘old’ a bad thing?! Isn’t that what we all hope, to grow old?! Sure beats the alternative! 

In my lifetime, 2 sitting U.S. Presidents have been fit with hearing aids. Even before I became an Audiologist, I remember hearing about President Reagan getting fit with the ‘‘new state-of-the-art entirely in-the-canal’ hearing aids (i.e. CICs). And in 1997, just after I earned my Audiology degree from Purdue, President Clinton (only 51 years old at the time) was famously fit with hearing aids with a “sleek and discreet” design. You guessed it, CICs. As a new Audiologist ‘coming of age’ during this period, it was an exciting time for the field. Here we had a young, popular President highlighting hearing healthcare, generating awareness of treating hearing loss and the dangerous effects of loud noise exposure. I was excited about the possibilities of these new small custom hearing aids to help my patients because the data I learned in school indicated that we weren’t reaching the vast majority of people with hearing loss. In no small part because of the stigma associated with hearing aids. Unfortunately, CICs weren’t the panacea we hoped for and we’re still fighting the ageist issue.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Even though, statistically speaking, we’re still not making a dent in the huge group of people that could benefit from amplification, there’s definitely a growing awareness of the cognitive, physical, financial ramifications of untreated hearing loss. And though too often stalemated and ineffectual, Congress passed legislation to try to improve access, reduce cost and spur technological innovation to help those with early hearing loss. The hope/thought is that technology and the ‘Marketplace’ can help reduce the obstacles (stigma, cost, etc.) associated with early treatment of hearing loss.

I’ve been around the field of Audiology for over two decades and I’ve witnessed the dramatic improvements in hearing aid/assistive listening technology the manufacturers have made to their products over the years. I’ve worked on the manufacturing side, as well as clinical practice. Early in my career, I was using an eye-glass screwdriver to make rudimentary changes.

Now I am wirelessly programming sophisticated digital signal processors with Bluetooth capability, fall detection and even live translation! As an industry, they are to be applauded. Their products make a tremendous difference in the lives of literally millions of people, young and old. Hearing loss doesn’t mean you’re “old” (no more/less than vision or back problems), it just means your auditory system is not functioning properly. As far as “old” is concerned, I like to say,

“Getting older is fine, just never get there.”

If it’s good enough for the Queen… 

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Jonathan Lipschutz Audiologist, M.S., F-AAA, Owner

Jonathan is the owner of Berkeley Hearing Center. He received his bachelor of science in hearing and speech science and a master of science in audiology from Purdue University. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology and the California Academy of Audiology. Jonathan has over 20 years of audiology and hearing aid experience in both the non-profit and corporate sectors.

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