Feb 2020 seattlepi.com

Pauletta B., a woman with hearing loss, became increasingly embarrassed by having to ask people to repeat themselves so she could understand them. At first, she just smiled and pretended she could hear what they said. Ultimately, her worsening hearing loss forced her to retire early from the job she loved. Hearing well is essential to communication. Diminished hearing can negatively affect your relationships and your career, as well as your sense of self-esteem and ability to stay mentally sharp. The constant effort of straining to understand others may fatigue the brain, often leading those suffering from hearing loss to withdraw from life. Hearing loss keeps people from enjoying life to the fullest.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition in the U.S., and according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 1 in 3 people 65 years old and older and half of those 75 and older have hearing loss. Because it can be gradual, those experiencing hearing loss may try to ignore or deny their difficulties for years. Embarrassment about having to ask others to repeat themselves causes some to pretend they’ve heard what was said when they really haven’t.

For people who’ve tried hearing aid after hearing aid without improvement, the daily frustration is very real. Those with hearing loss struggle to hear conversation, particularly in environments with ambient noise. Talking on the phone is challenging, as they might have fallen into the habit of trying to read lips. As hearing loss progresses, many keep trying the newest hearing aids in an attempt to improve their situation.

Stories of real couples coping with one spouse’s hearing loss — and how they regained hearing with cochlear implants — are explored in a new video series on YouTube called “The Sound of Love: Couples Share Ups and Downs of Hearing Loss Journeys” produced by Cochlear.

In the story of Pauletta and Chuck, Pauletta reveals that her growing inability to hear people speaking not only led her to retire from her job, but stopped her from going to church. She felt embarrassed about her condition and coped by withdrawing from social situations. Being able to hear again thanks to cochlear implants has helped Pauletta regain her sense of belonging to the community — and she was even surprised to hear their cat lapping a dish of water! Pauletta said that she and Chuck were once again communicating on a deeper level, and her daily frustrations of straining to hear others speak were gone.

Unlike hearing aids, most cochlear implants are covered by Medicare, and are also covered by many insurance plans, including Medicaid. Cochlear implant technology is not just another hearing aid. Cochlear implants replace the function of the inner ear and can help you regain the ability to hear conversations, music and other sounds clearly.

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