• May 21, 2018, 12:56:28 AM

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Author Topic: S/O Various Threads - Failure to use hearing aids: Rude or personal choice?  (Read 5965 times)

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Reason's thread got me thinking about something I've wondered about for years. If someone's hearing has deteriorated as he or she got older to the point that he or she needs hearing aids in order to easily speak with others, is it rude for the person to refuse to wear hearing aids (assuming that there's no reason he or she can't wear them)?

I'm undecided. On one hand, seems like a personal choice, which is not inherently rude. I've also heard from friends who do wear hearing aids that they can cause headaches and other problems for some, and they they take getting used to. I don't think someone should have to be in pain or uncomfortable. On the other hand, this personal choice basically limits the person from interacting with others. I've also experienced situations where someone refuses to wear hearing aids but insists on being accommodated - conversations must be repeated/shouted in full, the tv volume is turned up so loud that everyone else gets a headache, etc.

I will admit that it hurts me a little that my DH's maternal grandfather refuses to get hearing aids: because he refuses to do so, it's impossible to have anything more than a basic conversation with him, and it sort of makes me feel that he doesn't care enough to get to know anyone new. Obviously not his intention, but when DH and I were first dating it stung a little.   


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I think if you require everything and everyone around you to be louder than normal, then you need to avoid public places or it's rude. Being loud in public is rude (with sports games and other odd exceptions).
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I think if you require everything and everyone around you to be louder than normal, then you need to avoid public places or it's rude. Being loud in public is rude (with sports games and other odd exceptions).

POD. I have hearing problems that will eventually get worse (don't need aids yet), and I would never make my hardness of hearing a burden on people who are near me in a public venue. In fact, I don't ever ask someone to "speak up" - I ask them to enunciate more clearly, and I lean in more closely, because most of the time the problem is ambient noise plus the person I'm talking to speaking really, really fast.
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I don't think not wearing them is rude, as long as you aren't interacting with people in public.  But expecting people to speak up, insisting on the television being turned to an unreasonable volume for those of normal hearing, etc., basically things that will hurt the ears (and quite possibly damage the hearing) of people who have normal hearing or are wearing *their* hearing aids, is rude.  Asking such things of them can definitely cause headaches, and depending on exactly the volume you're expecting, can even cause hearing damage to them (not extreme damage, but loud noises do cause slight damage that adds up over time and leads *them* to the same predicament you're in).  If you want to live in a silent world, there's no law that says that you are required to get hearing aids, but then you're going to have to resign yourself to having people write things down and not having real conversations with anybody.
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I think it's fine to not use hearing aids, but on the flip side one should not punish everyone else because of that choice.

My grandmother refused - adamantly - to wear hearing aids despite her obvious desperate need for them. She would the get angry if she couldn't hear you speaking in a normal tone of voice, and get angry at your for yelling at her if you spoke up. She would also get angry if you retreated and tried to avoid talking to her because of this. So, basically, she refused to to anything about her own hearing problem, and then lashed out at everyone that tried to communicate with her. Not fair and definitely not nice. It made for many very unpleasant visits.

So I guess my answer is if you need them, please wear them when socializing, or at least don't get upset if no one talks to you when you don't.

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I think it's very selfish. Rude? I don't know about that.

I do know hearing aids are crazy expensive.


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IMO, if someone is deaf/going deaf, it's their choice to decide whether to accept or treat/combat this deafness. However, the flip side is that if (general) you essentially choose to be deaf (by choosing not to take steps that would allow you to hear), then you have to accept the other consequences of that decision. E.g., if you can't hear or at least lipread, then you may be unable to carry on conversation with anyone who cannot or will not either sign or write the conversation down. If you yourself don't learn sign language, then your conversational opportunities are further limited. This will be your problem, not theirs, because you are the one who chose not to use hearing aids.

IMO, others ought to take the same basic steps to help communication that they would for someone who was deaf and would not benefit from hearing aids (i.e. someone who doesn't have any choice about their hearing loss), but they're not obligated to do more than that unless they want to. E.g. if you would conduct the conversation in writing for someone who was deaf and couldn't use hearing aids, then be willing to write it down for the person who chooses not to use them. But you're not obligated to shout at them instead of writing, just because they prefer to pretend they're not deaf. And if their choice not to use hearing aids makes social conversation too arduous, then you're not obligated to have long chats or more than the minimum of polite interactions. If they don't like that they're missing out on socializing due to the communication difficulties, then they should consider what they can do to make it easier to communicate. If they choose to make communication more difficult than it needs to be, the onus is not on everyone else to pick up the slack and keep them from missing out on anything.


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It's rude if your inability to hear infringes on others, yes.  For instance, if you refuse to use hearing aids, which means you watch TV at volumes that are uncomfortable for others.  Or you speak at really loud levels, interfering with other people's conversations.

In my experience, my dad would get really frustrated and grumpy with us, claiming that we were mumbling or talking too fast for him to understand. The truth was he just couldn't hear us.  No one else had trouble understanding us.  He finally got his hearing aids this year and it's night and day difference, having conversations with him.


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It may be a personal choice whether or not to wear hearing aids, but if refusing to wear them makes your hearing loss everyone else's problem, then I think it does become rude.

I've been dealing with this with my mother for a number of years now, and it's extremely frustrating. She denies that she has any hearing loss, that she only has trouble hearing when I "speak too softly."  Trust me when I say I have never in my life been accused of speaking too softly!

It's difficult and exhausting to have conversations with her, because I have to speak louder than is comfortable, and I still know that at some point I'm going to lose her and she will just try to fake it and pretend she heard everything. Sometimes she responds inappropriately to what I said, and I realize we are having two different conversations. I never know whether to try and wrestle the conversation back to where it was, or just go with the alternate conversation. And sometimes, it's just too much trouble to even bother talking about some things, because I don't want to have to go back and repeat things and still wonder if she knows what I said. It really destroys the flow of the conversation. In a group of people, the choice is either to constantly repeat and explain things that everyone else heard just fine, or just let her be left out of the conversation.

She'll sometimes claim she was never told something, when really, she just didn't hear it.

She doesn't hear her phone half the time, unless she's right there in the room with it.

Don't get me started on watching tv with her --I'll just say that if I'm ever forced to do so again, I'm wearing earplugs.

Probably part of why I find this so infuriating is that when I was growing up, she frequently didn't really listen to me. So even though she can't help losing her hearing, this just feels like more of the same. Especially since she is refusing to admit there is a problem, and it's up to everyone else to accomodate her. I can't help but feel that repeating things all the time and speaking louder than is comfortable is really just enabling her. But how to stop doing that without it looking like I'm punishing her?


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I know several people that can use hearing aides but don't or only use them in particular situations. For them hearing aides didn't work in noisy environments because all the sound is amplified same.
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It's rude when it impacts other people negatively.

For example, my friend's mom went for a long time without getting hearing aids, insisting that she didn't need them. But you had to talk really loudly before she'd hear anything (rude to other people in public). Plus, she tended not to hear things. So you'd tell her stuff, sometimes important things, and she'd not quite hear it, but you wouldn't find out until sometime afterwards which parts she heard and which she didn't. 


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I think it's fine to not use hearing aids, but on the flip side one should not punish everyone else because of that choice.

I agree. You don't have to wear hearing aids if you need them but it is rude to start harrasing other people to speak up or start yelling at people


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In my case, I wear a hearing aid.  I should wear two, but one is broken.  I cannot afford to replace them.  There are relatively few places that will help adults with the costs for hearing aids, and the ones that do, have VERY stringent requirements: show them 1 year of bank statements to prove need AND pay $200-300 per hearing aid.  New, at retail, hearing aids are easily $1100 each for the basic ones so it IS a savings, but I can't even afford THAT.  So I'm down to one, and will have to limp by until this 10+ year old hearing aid finally gives up the ghost, and then I will have nothing.  However, I am aware of my limitations and will do my best to limit my frustrated reactions at the things that happen when I don't have a functioning hearing aid.  And I'm 28.

I do agree that sticking your head in the sand and refusing to accept that you have a problem is not the way to go about it.  There is a way to gracefully deal with hearing loss without a hearing aid -- regardless of the reason why you don't have them... be it financial or personal preference.


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DH has worked in a shop and his hearing is bad.  And I speak soflty and fast.  I have to remember to speak louder and slower than normal.  It's irratating, but his pride is standing in the way of getting hearing aids.  I haven't pushed him yet.

Funny story (to me and Sis).  Dad is in his late 80's and stone cold deaf.  He has hearing aids and refuses to wear them.  He has become exellent at reading lips so we just make sure he's looking at us when we speak to him.  Why doesn't he wear his hearing aids?  My Mom.  She can blather for hours about absolutely nothing.  He says he really enjoys silence. 


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My dad, as a result of working around industrial equipment all his life, is really deaf. He has top-notch hearing aids that he won't wear because he "doesn't like them." There's a guy here in Houston who is the uber-epic king of adjusting any hearing aid you bring him, and will Dad let me make an appointment? NOT ON YOUR LIFE.

My suspicion is that, like his father before him, he prefers to have a dodge, and "Oh, sorry, honey, I didn't hear you" is a great excuse. (My grandmother would catch my grandfather covertly turning off his aid so he wouldn't have to hear her.)
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