This month’s AARP Bulletin came in today’s mail. The feature item on hearing caught my eye: “10 Things To Know About Improving It.” I’ve considered getting my hearing checked, so I decided to educate myself about the process.
It’s not that I’m concerned about my ability to hear others, but I get the sense that I may be speaking louder than necessary. I base this on the looks I sometimes get from those around me. Well, the looks and the fact that people who are all the way across the room often chime in on my conversations.
The article noted that hearing loss is linked to other health issues, in particular dementia and Alzheimer’s, according to a recent study by Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging. (The risk of dementia is five times more for those with severe hearing loss, and double for those with mild loss.) This makes sense. If you don’t hear much of what's going on around you, the voices you’re listening to are probably in your head.
The summary of the six types of hearing aids seemed especially helpful. It provided a brief description of each one, the pros and cons of each, and the costs. I read about all six, and I have some bad news: there is no perfect type of hearing aid. With each one, you’ll have to give up something.
I hope James Dyson takes this on now that he has revolutionized the vacuum cleaner and the hand dryers in public loos. He’ll probably invent a hearing aid that also sucks out your ear wax and irrigates your sinuses.
Now for the really bad news. According to the article, Medicare doesn’t pay for hearing aids, and also not for most hearing tests. I find this shocking. Medicare pays for eye exams. Who decided that seeing is more essential to healthy living than hearing? Is it worse to walk into a lamppost you didn’t see? Or to be hit by a speeding car you didn’t hear coming? And let's not forget the increased risk of dementia.
One of my college classmates has had compromised hearing and sight for much of her adult life. I remember her saying once that if she had to choose between going completely blind or completely deaf, she’d keep her hearing. That surprised me, so I asked why. She said she felt hearing was more essential to social interaction. She was coming from a place of experience, so her words stayed with me.
Determined not to let the AARP Bulletin ruin my weekend, I leafed through the rest of the pages looking for some bright spot. It turned out to be an advertisement with vivid yellow background, a huge clump of Blackeyed Susans, and a couple in a gentle embrace. The woman was wearing a bright orange halter top and matching short orange sarong. You couldn’t get much brighter than this ad.
The headline read: “Sex. It’s Never Too Late To Learn Something New.” (The line is trademarked, by the way, so don’t plan to use it as an icebreaker the next time you’re at a cocktail party.)
If the headline didn’t get my attention, the subheads certainly did. “See for Yourself on Discreet Home Video. Real people demonstrating real sexual techniques! Nothing is left to the imagination!”
I hate to burst their marketing bubble, but I’ve reached the age where I’d rather leave real sexual techniques to the imagination. Their “visual encyclopedia” sounds like way TMI for me.
As I tossed the bulletin into my recycling bin, I felt disappointed by the organization that is supposed to be looking out for me in my newly retired state. I expected more from AARP. They left me feeling distinctly un-cheery.
A vision flashes through my head. I’m locked in a tender embrace with my husband, and I'm whispering sexual fantasies. From the other side of the wall that separates our new condo from the neighbors comes a male voice. “Hey, Buddy. It’s never too late to learn something new.”
Then I have an even more disturbing thought. Those sex tapes are probably covered by Medicare.