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Normal for Your Age – Certainly Not!

May 1st, 2012 by qcurrie

Normal for Your Age – Certainly Not!

As an Audiologist, I can’t tell you how many clients come into my office and say the following:

“I had a hearing test once and it showed my hearing was down but the doctor told me that it was normal for my age.

One recent client expressed how insulted she was that the doctor assumed, because she was a senior, good hearing wasn’t important to her (she was 89 by the way!).  I would have to strongly agree with her feelings and my blood boils every time I hear another account of how a health professional, however well-meaning, mis-informs their patient.

If their patient had a broken leg would they say, “That’s normal after a fall like you’ve had.” Or if they had cataracts would they say, “Oh your vision is going but that’s normal for your age.”  Certainly not!  They would recommend the appropriate course of action to restore the patient to as close to full health as possible.  While hearing loss amongst seniors is indeed common, it is also common for non-seniors as well but you don’t hear them being told “Hearing loss is normal for a 22 year old like you.”

So many people live with hearing loss and taking action is a big step which takes no small amount of courage and humility.  They’re looking for reassurance from their doctor that they are not ‘going crazy’ and indeed need some help and good advice.  That there’s some hope for improvement if they go see an Audiologist.  When they’re told “It’s normal for your age.” the real message is, “You should just live with it, it’s who you are now, a person who doesn’t need to hear because you’re old.”

Un-addressed hearing loss causes communication problems that are anything but ‘normal’ and the negative impact on a person’s general health and medical status is very real and well documented.

But the tide is changing.  Slowly, physicians are taking a more proactive approach to hearing care and recommending that patients get tested even before problems arise.   Today’s seniors are re-defining what it is to be a senior.  They’re active, involved, and engaged in shaping the economy, society and the entire world.  What will be considered ‘normal’ in 8 years when two thirds of North America is over the age of 60!

So if someone tells you hearing loss is ‘normal for your age’ politely, but firmly let them know that your hearing is important to you at any age.  Everyone is entitled to enjoy easy, natural communication with their loved-ones and friends.  To deny someone the opportunity to stay connected is in effect saying they don’t matter.  And you matter!

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