Thursday, June 13, 2019

Electronically connected and not necessarily happy about it

I am now a member of the cool crowd. After 60+ years of never being in the in-crowd, I have entered that august realm. 

I am one of a select group who walk around talking to themselves, although that is not what folks are doing (most of them, anyway). I used to ask myself when observing these individuals: who are these important-looking people who cannot wait to sit down somewhere – in a car, at home, in their office, anywhere – and talk. We give these folks a second glance – at least I do, but maybe that is because of my age, the generation born before electronic devices shared our cribs. These self-talkers seem to be in their own world, absorbed in a significant discussion that observers are not privy to.

A closer look indicates most of these people – a few actually talk to themselves – are deep into a conversation with someone somewhere. Further scrutiny discovers earpieces and wires unobtrusively protruding from their ears, or at least one ear. 

Well folks, I am now one of those walking, talking, electronically-connected folks. Not because I graduated to a new level of electronic smartness, or a desire to be electronically-hip.

No, I am connected by the latest intrusion on my life indicating I am slowly, relentlessly entering seniorhood.

I am now the not-so-proud owner and wearer of an obscenely expensive pair of hearing aids. 

ear trumpet

I guess I should be glad I live today and not prior to the 19thcentury. Or, if living back then, did not hang around long enough to experience one aging feature – hearing loss. Back in those pre-electric and pre-electronic years hollowed out animal horns were used to amplify sound. Pre-modern aids were invented in the 19thcentury and have evolved since, although still need a long way to go to be user and budget friendly.

I am a 21stcentury hearing aid user. One more reason not to cut my hair - my mane covers ears and aids. A small rubber tip plugs into each ear and a narrow wire, tip on one end and hearing component on the other, hooks over the ear. 

Insert aids and the world is a louder place. Assuming the aids are charged. Mine are rechargeable, but must be inserted properly in the charging station or won’t work the next day. Or so I was told...

My hearing aids are Bluetooth enabled, and an app (what doesn’t have an app today?) on my phone buzzes the aid when my phone rings. I answer by pressing a control switch on the aid and begin talking to whoever is on the other end of the call. 

So here I am, a walking, talking figure of an almost-old-lady. Folks observing me probably think—is she talking to herself? Is she crazy? Old folks do talk to themselves...many are crazy...better steer clear...if someone says something to me, or about me to someone else while passing by I may hear them, now that my hearing is amplified...on the other hand sometimes ignorance - and an unheard voice - is bliss. 

I should be thrilled modern technology makes conversations, movies and other forms of sound louder, clearer and more intelligible. Modern magic!

But there are times quiet is cool too.

Listen to the sound of silence.
-       Paul Simon


  1. Interesting.... my time is coming. Getting tired of asking people to repeat themselves. Can I ask how you decided on the ones you chose? Did you check out others? Go with a recommendation? Will medicare pay for any of it?

  2. The nice thing about hearing aids is that they can be turned off. I still don't need them but I do have some mild hearing loss and occasional tinnitus. :-)

  3. Hearing aids today are so slick. You really can't tell if someone is wearing one. Although the ear trumpets are kind of cute.

  4. My husband resisted for years. I only convinced him to get hearing aids after reading an article linking hearing loss with dementia -- hearing loss removes you from your environment, and that can lead to cognitive decline. I figure I'll need hearing aids one day and will happily wear them.

  5. You're lucky you can afford hearing aids, many can't. No surprise that the health care insurance for older people in the US, Medicare, doesn't cover hearing aids or most dental care.