Vitality - Healthy Aging NewsletterSpring 2011

My Experience With Hearing Aids

When Group Health Cooperative member Marilyn Dickey, 71, of Mill Creek, found out she needed hearing aids two years ago, she was inconsolable.

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But she quickly recovered after working with her Group Health audiologist. Recently, Dickey shared her experience with Vitality.

What was your reaction when you found you had hearing loss?
I cried for weeks. I’ve had a lot of major health issues since childhood, and I was horrified to hear I had one more flaw. But my friends said, "What on earth are you talking about? It’s such a little thing."

What was your perception of hearing aids?
I don't know why I thought other people would say, "Oh my god, Marilyn is wearing hearing aids!" I guess I was thinking of my dad's big, ugly hearing aids, and the battery in his pocket. But mine are small, and blend in nicely with the color of my hair and skin."

Did it take time to adjust?
Yes. At first your own voice sounds odd, and when you're in a noisy or crowded place, like a restaurant, you have to learn to focus on the people at your table. I don't have any trouble in a lecture hall, but I leave my hearing aids out when I go to the ballet because the feedback of the violins is intense. I don't have that problem at home, though. In fact, the music sounds much richer and fuller now.

What are some other areas of improvement?
Having hearing aids made me realize how much I used to rely on lip-reading. Now I don't have to sit close to a speaker when I go to a seminar, and I can have a conversation with my son when I'm in the kitchen and he's in the family room. Wearing them also makes a huge difference when I'm on the phone.

How did your audiologist help you?
My audiologist, Brenna Carroll, was very caring and supportive all along the way. Hearing aids aren't like getting your normal hearing back, and she encouraged me to be patient. Sometimes a problem was just a matter of making a program adjustment, or learning to insert the aids differently.

What's your advice to others?
If you're having trouble hearing, get tested. It's ridiculous not being able to hear when there’s a solution. My hearing aids are very easy to put in, easy to take out, and easy to care for. And, now I can hear! This makes me and my friends very happy.


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