I went to my optometrist last week, not because I noticed any problems, but because it was time. Turns out I could benefit from new glasses. I regarded my vision as normal but it wasn’t. It seems my vision has changed in some small ways that make my current prescription obsolete.
It works in a similar manner with ears. Hearing loss can develop very slowly as we age. How we regard the change depends as much on our attitude as on how it affects our ability to communicate. Oftentimes we don’t see hearing loss as the reason for why we’re fatigued after a long day of listening to people. We chalk it up to stress at work or something.
Hearing loss doesn’t hurt and it usually comes on very gradually. We get used to it and, in many ways, accept the limitations it imposes. These limitations become “normal.” “I don’t like parties anymore.” “I don’t go to loud restaurants.” I hear comments like these frequently. A person’s idea of what is normal operates very powerfully to affect behavior. If a person says something is normal, there’s no incentive to change.
But when someone realizes there’s a problem, when they recognize that their hearing is not normal, and takes steps toward a solution, I hear comments like this one: “My neighbor asked me if I got hearing aids. When I said why did you ask, he said I can’t hear your television through the wall anymore.”