What Does It Take to Persuade Someone to Get a Hearing Aid?

by Tina Blue
October 25, 2003

          In "Refusing to Admit to Hearing Loss" I explain why so many people refuse to acknowledge that their ability to hear has diminished with age and that they need to wear hearing aids.

          Recently, my friend Stuart, a retired professor from my department, told me the story of how his late father, Mac, was finally persuaded to get a hearing aid.

          Mac's hearing had deteriorated enough that his family was troubled by it, but his wife (whose name I forgot to ask when Stuart told me the story) was especially worried.  She feared that she might fall in their bedroom or some other part of the house and not be able to summon Mac's aid if he was in the family room with the TV turned up loud enough for him to hear.  She begged him to get a hearing aid to allay her fears, but Mac's response never wavered. "My hearing is fine!" he would grumble whenever the subject came up.

          Sure enough, the day came when Stuart's mother fell in the bedroom and couldn't get up.  She could feel herself going into shock, but she had no idea how serious her actual injuries were.  "Mac," she called in her weak little voice, "Mac!  But Mac was watching a ballgame on TV, with the volume turned up full force.  Mac never heard her.

          She began to panic. She feared she was really going to die of shock or perhaps of internal bleeding, with her husband just a few yards away but completely unaware that she was in danger, because he could not hear her call for help.

          Finally, she drew inspiration from old World War II movies she had seen. Using her elbows like the soldiers in the movies crawling across dangerous ground, she slowly and painfully worked her way across the floor and to the telephone, which she managed with some effort to knock to the floor.  With her strength fading fast, she dialed 911 and begged for help.

          Meanwhile, Mac sat in the family room watching the game.  The first he knew of his wife's accident was when the police broke down the door to rescue her.

          As it turned out, her injuries were relatively minor--just a few broken toes.  But the danger of death had been quite real, for she actually was in shock when she was rescued by the police and taken by ambulance to the hospital.

          You'd think these events would persuade Mac to get a hearing aid.  But, noooooo.  "My hearing is just fine!" he continued to grumble whenever the subject came up.

          Finally, Stuart's mother found a way to get Mac to get a hearing aid.

          As Stuart tells the story, his mother was a very old-fashioned and prudish lady, but as she got older, she got less hesitant to talk about things that once would have made her blush.

          So she told her son, "You know, you're father and I are in our eighties now, but he still likes to "touch" me.  I told him that if he didn't get a hearing aid there would be no more sex.

          Apparently Mac made the appointment with the audiologist very soon after his wife issued that ultimatum.

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