Let’s Hear It for Hearing


By Neil Offen

I’m sorry, could you repeat that?

Yes, for many of us, the hearing is starting to go. This is particularly true with boomer couples, who spend most of their time together thinking, naturally, they are being ignored when it’s really that they can’t hear each other.

Some of the time they may be forced to exclaim, “I told you not to speak to me when you’re in another room” even when they are in the same room. They also may occasionally note that they can’t hear each other when a) the water is running or b) when the water is not running.

The rest of the time, of course, they just spend simply saying to each other, “What?”

For those of any age, the easy solution to these kinds of hearing problems, obviously, is to appear not to be paying attention when someone is talking. This should not be difficult since you are most likely not paying attention when someone is talking. This is particularly true if that someone is your spouse or partner or friend and is telling you once again that same story about the friend of the cousin of this person they met the other day at the supermarket.

Granted, ignoring is more difficult to do in other situations, such as when you can’t hear the smoke alarm beeping that the bratwurst caught on fire and the bedroom is full of smoke or when the cop is telling you to pull over and get out your license and registration.

If that’s the case and not hearing as well as you used to or need to really starts to become problematic, you might consider the following strategies:

Avoid noisy places. These would include busy restaurants, airport runways, recess time for kindergarten classrooms and Space X launchpads. If you really need to launch your rocket, at least don’t do it during recess.

Look at the speaker. When someone else is talking, it’s customary, of course, to ignore them. But if that doesn’t work and they continue to speak, watch them intently until it is your chance to jump in and say, “What?”

Pay attention to gestures. If you can’t clearly hear the person to whom you’re talking, note whether that person is giving you the finger or starting to make a fist.

Use closed captioning. When you watch TV or online videos and have difficulty understanding the dialogue, using closed captioning can help you focus on the difficulty you are having in seeing the captions rather than the difficulty you are having in hearing the actors.

If the captions are white on a white screen, or about ten seconds behind what the actors are actually saying, you can always go find a mime.

Read lips. This will probably be less successful if the person talking is wearing a mask. If that’s the case, just try to imagine they are offering you money.

Get professional advice. Check in with your medical provider if your hearing loss continues to worsen. Explain your situation and only be concerned if your provider responds by saying, “What?”

Carrboro resident Neil Offen has written humor pieces for a number of different publications, in a number of different countries. His column appears twice monthly in The Local Reporter.

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1 Comment on "Let’s Hear It for Hearing"

  1. Ellie Kinnaird | March 4, 2022 at 5:35 pm | Reply

    Thanks, Neil. You always cheer me up, especially now when I have chronic pain – takes my mind off it and as we all know – laughter is the best medicine.
    Best, Ellie

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