Can a hearing aid reduce facial wrinkles?
This has been my experience, after just one week of wearing my new hearing aids (both ears). I can see and feel the difference in the tension of my facial muscles. The muscles are now more relaxed because I am no longer straining to hear and process what I am hearing. Outcome - wrinkles are reduced.
Can a hearing aid improve visual acuity?
Absolutely, for the same reason. In retrospect, I think I must have been squinting a bit while I was straining to hear. The same tension in my face that exacerbated my wrinkles also had been affecting my eyesight.
Can a hearing aid give me some advantages over a person with normal, i.e., unimpaired hearing?
Again, the answer is yes. Wow! What a revelation. My hearing, unassisted, is about 70% of normal in the highest third of frequencies in the range of human hearing. This is considered “Moderate Hearing Loss”. In a personal context, I would describe this as mildly frustrating overall, but trying to have conversations in noisy restaurants was a struggle that I wanted to avoid. Definitely a social handicap. As a teacher, I had difficulty hearing the questions or answers of students in my classroom. This was not acceptable. I felt I couldn’t fulfill my responsibility and I couldn’t enjoy my work.
Modern hearing aids are remarkable mini-computers, capable of modifying, in many creative ways, the sounds that come into my ear. I now have the ability to selectively increase or decrease (to some degree) the input of certain frequency ranges. For example, in a noisy restaurant, I can use the directional functionality to focus on the person seated directly opposite me, or to either side, and decrease the sensitivity to the ambient noise. Isn’t this an advantage compared to a person with normal hearing, whose ears will be filled with everything? This is a totally new experience.
I am thrilled with the possibility of discovering new dimensions to life. Life is noisier than I remember. I generate more noise than I remember. Common wisdom describes aging as a time of progressively declining abilities. Yes, I am not as quick or as strong, physically, as when I was younger. Has that impaired my ability to continue to learn, even physical activities like playing the piano or tennis? Emphatically not.
My hearing loss was gradual, not the result of accident or injury, so my brain (and body) learned to compensate for it. The human brain’s amazing ability to adapt comes at a cost, however. Considerable energy and attention must be expended. When the stress of struggling to hear clearly was relieved, I experienced a burst of energy that suddenly became available for productive activities. That energy is now translated into better physical and mental performance and, of course, delight in enjoying the gift of life itself.
What might I be able to accomplish with this energy? I have no idea, but I already can feel that conversations with my family members, including my wife, have an intimacy that I had either forgotten or may not have been possible before. When I was struggling to hear clearly, my thoughts and feelings couldn’t flow as easily as they do now, because so much energy was being diverted from productive, creative thinking.
I am looking forward to the next decade with great hope and anticipation! I wish that all of us, at any age, can and should feel like this, every day. Life is truly full of surprises and opportunities for us to feel more alive, to appreciate more of what life offers us – both the happy moments and challenging times. We need the contrast to remind us that this is the journey of being human. We must always be humble and grateful for everything. We learn from every interaction and every action we take. The greatest sin is giving up on life, denying ourselves of the opportunity to grow, by being too lazy to invest the time and effort. As long as we are alive, we are growing. As long as we are growing, we are alive.