Since the dawn of time, wives have been asking themselves the question: Is my husband listening to me? Perhaps even cavewomen, trying to call to their cavemen husbands hunkered down around a blazing fire, pondered that age-old question.
These days the flickering flames of communal fires have been replaced with the glow from plasma TVs and cellular phones, but the question remains the same. Could a lack of response be due to a hearing problem?
Dr. Jude Liptak, an audiologist and founder of Colonial Center for Hearing in Williamsburg, Va., is not just a doctor, he’s also a husband. An avid ice hockey fan, he admits there have been many times when he was so engrossed in the action on the screen that he tuned out everything around him, including his wife’s voice. “Everyone has things they are so focused on that they block out the world around them,” Liptak says.
So how can a wife figure out the answer to the question that has been plaguing couples forever? Following are signs of hearing loss that wives (and to be fair, husbands too) should watch for:
Mixing up similar-sounding words. “When you ask your husband ‘What do you want for dinner?’ and he responds with ‘Who’s the sinner?’ that could be a sign of hearing loss,” Liptak says.
- Turning up the volume on the television. If your husband has to keep ratcheting up the sound on the TV, that’s a classic sign he is having trouble hearing.
- Unable to hear in a vehicle. Those struggling with hearing loss may not be able to understand what people say over the noise of the moving vehicle.
Hearing loss is the punchline for a lot of over-the-hill jokes, but difficulty hearing is no laughing matter. In addition to missing out on conversations with family and friends, as well as endlessly asking people to repeat themselves, hearing loss also has an impact on brain function.
“Studies have linked hearing loss to problems with short-term memory and dementia,” Liptak says. “Because your short-term memory is busy trying to process what people say, that makes it easier to forget things.”
Many men are not easily coaxed into seeing a doctor, and in Liptak’s experience, he has noted that men are indeed a little more resistant to getting their hearing checked. “It may be because the hearing loss has been gradual and they haven’t noticed a problem themselves,” he says. “Men also worry that a hearing aid will make them look old. But don’t you look old if you have to ask someone to repeat what they said a gazillion times?” Liptak blames misleading hearing aid advertisements for the misconception that only senior citizens need or wear hearing aids. “Advertisers have grandma and grandpa in the commercial, when it’s really anyone who could need a hearing aid,” he says. “It’s a terrible stereotype. Anyone with hearing loss can benefit from getting a hearing aid, and it could mean less irreversible damage to a person’s mental processing and cognition.”