Is it possible? Can hearing aids be…sexy?
Do you think hearing aids can be sexy? For most people, that answer is a resounding “no.”
Maybe you’re already conjuring up visions of hearing aids past like the one your beloved grandpa (rest his soul) wore when you were just a kid. It resembled a boxy transistor radio with a tangle of wires and a big ear plug in a shade of beige that wouldn’t blend with anyone’s skin color.
Those body-worn hearing aids looked clunky and awkward and had technology to match with poor sound quality and lots of feedback whistling. Wearing one of them was instantly aging, and they contributed to the now outdated idea that hearing aid wearers were old and worn out.
Not just for old folks
While hearing loss can be part of the natural aging process for millions of Americans, our noisy world is challenging the connection between advanced age and hearing loss. For many Generation X-ers born in the 1960s and 70s, excessive noise while growing up was a way of life. Portable Walkman radios with headphones, loud hair band arena concerts and little awareness about the dangers of noise exposure mean hearing loss isn’t just a problem for our retired Baby Boomer parents. Even young college students struggle with understanding in noisy environments thanks to hidden hearing loss which is undetectable in its earliest stages with most hearing tests.
Even though many of us know hearing loss isn’t just for the old, the most effective treatment, hearing aids, still carry a negative stigma. They can present a self-image dilemma for people who feel youthful and attractive and not “old enough” to need hearing aids. And, some may wonder if they can still be and feel sexy even while wearing hearing aids.
Communication is sexy
Ask most any successfully partnered couple about the secrets to lasting love and many will cite the need for open, honest and frequent communication.
Hearing loss makes communication a struggle in so many ways. People who cannot hear well often miss the subtleties in speech that add to its meaning. They may hear that something is being said, but they cannot understand it. Good points are missed, punch lines of great jokes are wasted and softly spoken sweet nothings are ignored, all of which can lead to a strain on your relationship.
Now, imagine you’re the partner in the relationship without the hearing loss, the one always accommodating communication difficulties. Maybe you’re the one always having to speak up to be heard, the one for whom the television is always way too loud and the one who never really feels listened to. Being partnered to someone with uncorrected hearing loss can be immensely frustrating, especially when there is so much help available.
Without good communication, sharing, cooperation and understanding are replaced with frustration, annoyance and resentment – definitely not sexy.
Confidence is sexy
Because it’s such a struggle to communicate, people with hearing loss can begin to feel self-conscious and may stop engaging at work, participating in social events and even having conversations with their other half. Single people with hearing loss sometimes are too embarrassed by it to take a chance on that promising first date.
Being sexy often has little to do with physical appearance. However, self-confidence can be a big turn on for the object of your affection. Being able to hear well, communicate, laugh together and enjoy spirited discussions over romantic dinners builds confidence that can make you exude sex appeal. In this way, hearing aids, even those that others can see, are often far less conspicuous than untreated hearing loss.
Technology is sexy
Thanks to innovation within the hearing aid industry, your kindly grandfather with the body-worn hearing aid wouldn’t recognize today’s devices. They’re sleek, discreet, powerful, automated and comfortable enough to wear all day. The adaptive sound processing features can effortlessly accommodate your early morning gym routine, a demanding day at the office and a noisy happy hour with your main squeeze.
Today’s hearing aids don’t interfere with the rest of your technological world, they integrate seamlessly with it. Most devices communicate wirelessly with each other and with your mobile phones, televisions and personal music players. There are even devices such as the Opn from Oticon that can be used to operate your home’s security system and program your coffee maker.
Depending on your hearing loss, you may be able to wear hearing aids that are so small they won’t be seen. If you’re not worried about others noticing your sexy cool hearing aids, you might opt for devices in a vivid fashion color to suit your style. Advanced materials and thoughtful design make it possible to wear your hearing aids during a rigorous spinning class, competitive golf game or a romantic stroll along the beach at sunset.
Confidently engaging fully in life is sexy, and better hearing makes it possible. If you or your loved one has a hearing loss, get help right away. There are options to fit every lifestyle, budget, hearing loss and style preference. You can start by contacting one of the hearing care professionals in our extensive clinic directory. You might just find that better hearing improves your love life in ways you’ve never imagined!
Brande Plotnick, MS, MBA, managing editor, Healthy Hearing