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Wednesday, January 23 , 2019, 8:42 am | Fair 41º

Your Health
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Rona Barrett: SAY WHAT? A Male Decibel-Measuring Contest

Friends, readers and fellow graying ones, lend me your ear. On second thought don't bother.

If you're over 65 like I am, your ears probably don't work as well as they used to, but we’re not alone.

One-third of us over 65 and more than half of us over 75 have difficulty hearing.

In fact, you men are twice as likely to develop hearing loss than us women, and only one of seven of you men, who could benefit from a hearing aid, will ever wear one.

Is it ego? As if dropping a few decibels is connected to the loss of your virility.

Is it embarrassment? As if it would be the first time anyone has noticed you're aging. 

Is it denial, the “I hear exactly what I need to hear” syndrome?

Is it stigma? Remember when “deaf and dumb” was always said in the same breath?

Is it vanity? Get the image out of your mind that someone is telling you to stick a Victrola-sized device in your ear.

Take my husband (although he’s already taken) for example.

He has the latest in iPhone hearing aids that enable him to hear the TV more clearly while muting all other external noise. Unfortunately, he frequently forgets to adjust the control app — effectively muting me.

“Do you think you’re the only one in the room?” I yell in frustration. 

There are a few accurate preliminary hearing tests online with questionnaires you can answer and audible tests you can use — right on your own computer.

But for those — and again I’m addressing you men — who still stubbornly refuse to get your hearing tested, I've put together Rona's Hearing Test For Men Over 50.  

If you answer yes to any of the five following questions, you need to get your hearing checked!

I said, “if you answer...” Never mind.

1) In the last day or two, have you asked someone to, "Mumble louder; I can barely hear you"?

2) Have you noticed your friends speaking to you loudly, slowly and over-enunciating as if you’re being spoon-fed?

3) In the past week, instead of asking someone to repeat a question, did you just shake your head no but verbally answer yes — so that you're covered either way?

4) Have you had to say to someone you're arguing with, “Look at me when I'm listening to you”?

5) Have you recently bragged, “I don't need a hearing aid, I've got my wife to repeat it for me?" This is called the “living hearing aid” syndrome or what I call the “one-step-closer-to-sleeping-on-the-couch” syndrome. 

Seriously, hearing difficulties can lead to other issues. Here’s just one: because of the role our ears play in balance, minor hearing loss in a senior can triple our risk of falling. 

So, finally to you decibel-ly challenged men, I offer this motivational cheer. Repeat after me:

Me:  “What do you want?”

You men:  “Hearing aids!”

Me: “When do you want them?”

You men:  “Hearing aids!”

Until next time, keep thinking the good thoughts.

— For more than 30 years, Rona Barrett was a pioneering entertainment reporter, commentator and producer. Since 2000, she has focused her attention and career on the growing crisis of housing and support for our aging population. She is the founder and CEO of the Rona Barrett Foundation, the catalyst behind Santa Ynez Valley’s first affordable senior housing, the Golden Inn & Village. Contact her at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are her own.

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