Monday, 15 August 2016

Jimmy Carter: Hearing loss is common; so is the reluctance to get it treated

James Earl "Jimmy" Carter - NARA - 558522.tifAnd you thought he just didn't listen.... Former president Jimmy Carter, 91, told the New Yorker recently that 90 percent of the arguments he has with Rosalynn, his wife of 70 years, are about hearing.

"When I tell her, 'Please speak more loudly,' she absolutely refuses to speak more loudly, or to look at me when she talks," he told the magazine. In response, the former first lady, 88, declared that having to repeat things "drives me up the wall."

Yet after both went to the doctor, much to her surprise, "I found out it was me!" she said. "I was the one who was deaf."

Hearing loss is like that. It comes on gradually, often without an individual's realizing it, and it prompts a range of social and health consequences. "You don't just wake up with a sudden hearing loss," says Barbara Kelley, executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America. "It can be insidious. It can creep up on you. You start coping, or your spouse starts doing things for you, like making telephone calls."

An estimated 25 percent of Americans between ages 60 and 69 have some degree of hearing loss, according to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. That percentage grows to more than 50 percent for those age 70 to 79, and to almost 80 percent of individuals older than 80. That's about 30 million people, a number likely to increase as our population ages.