I have always had some hearing loss and as I became older it has become more prevalent. I have the diagnosis of congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) hearing loss can be difficult to make, often can go unrecognized, and is characterized by variable-severity bilateral, asymmetric, or unilateral sensorineural hearing loss [Kenneson & Cannon 2007] Had this been diagnoses when I was younger there are treatments that could have helped. I remember in school always being tested and retested but always told I was borderline, but my verbal communication skill was developed so the audiologist was not worried.
I developed the skill of lip reading as a child, not even knowing I was doing so. My hearing loss is low tones so instead of female voices I can’t hear men. Talking on the phone is difficult and with the pandemic, wearing masks for me has been miserable and at times a nightmare. For years I struggled with the cost of hearing aides and that they are made for those who have high tone loss, I could not find a product that worked. To be honest I gave up.
One of the worst things I did was use my spouse and children to interpret for me in social situations. Many times, I was thought to be snobby or rude when people tried to get my attention not knowing that I did not hear them. It was and still can be embracing when I give a wrong answer due to reading lips wrong (olive and I Love) have the same movements of the lips.
Three separate studies found that older adults with hearing loss may be “more sedentary and more likely to experience worsening physical function than those without hearing loss,” according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), which supported the studies. I can see two reasons for this, being home is quiet and safe for me, second with hearing issues my balance is affected and increases the risk of falling. Hearing loss for me has meant social isolation and I know I am not alone.
A couple years ago my brother-in-law gave me a set of Hearing aides that his mother had purchased and then passed away, so I tried them, and they worked. At first things were loud, voices, people walking, cars on the road. One great lesson I learned was passing gas was not silent. I still have a lack of directional awareness when it comes to noises. As time went on got used to the hearing aids for the first time, I heard sound of the wind, I could feel it and see it, but not hear the leaves of my aspen coming together in the wind to make the crackling fall sounds. Running water in a stream, brook or river run but hearing water as you splash your feet in has been amazing. I am so grateful for hearing aids; they literally changed my life.
Tracy HeavyRunner is our Home and Community Based Program Director.
She has been with AAA-Five County since 1996. Tracy graduated from Southern Utah University and is a Social Service Worker. Additionally, she is a certified caregiver coach through the Rosalyn Carter Institute and a Master Trainer for the Chronic Disease, Diabetes and Pain Self-Management Programs