I recently called a new hearing aid user to see how he was doing. His wife answered the phone and reported for him. One of her remarks was that he noticed the clock ticking on the wall. Usually we think of hearing aids in terms of helping people with speech understanding. That is often the primary goal because that is often the primary complaint: “I can hear her talking but I can’t understand what she’s saying.”
But speech understanding is not the whole picture. There is a world of sound that people with hearing loss can miss. Sometimes this is described as environmental awareness, that is, an awareness of the sounds in one’s environment. We use the sounds in our environment to orient ourselves and make decisions about how we interact with our environment. When some of these sounds are inaudible, we rely on vision and cognition to make these decisions. That may increase stress, because our brains may have inadequate information. That’s why I often promote better hearing in terms of stress reduction. Doesn’t everyone want to reduce stress?