Can You Hear Me Now?

My favorite uncle, who also happened to be a minister, was losing his hearing.  He was still preaching, giving great sermons, singing uplifting hymns and telling humorous stories.  At the end of the service, just before the closing prayer, he would ask the congregation for prayer requests.  But often he could not hear the requests as they were shouted out.  This was evident when he prayed for Steven, who was recovering from a broken leg, instead of Kevin, who was starting back to school.  It’s a good thing that God is all-knowing.  Is there such thing as prayer malpractice?

His wife suggested that he get hearing aids, and I suggested that he get hearing aids, and his kids suggested that he get hearing aids – and he wouldn’t even entertain the idea.  And I know that my uncle was not alone in refusing to even talk to an audiologist about hearing aids.  Why is that?

Is there such thing as prayer malpractice?

Well, I have my opinions on why someone might not want to get hearing aids, but for a more fact-based answer, I spoke with Dr Julie Pabst of AccuQuest Hearing Center in East Lansing, Michigan.  I asked her why people choose not to get hearing aids, and this is what she told me.

  1. Cost – Hearing aids are not covered under Medicare. These medical devices, and can run anywhere from $3,000 to $7,000 per pair.  However, she noted that there can be ways to pay for the cost of hearing aids if a client does not have the money – and she usually tells clients that if they want to hear better, she will help them be able to afford it.
  2. Stories of people who have hearing aids but don’t use them – Everyone seems to have a story of someone they know who spent a lot of money on hearing aids, but now they don’t work so they sit in a drawer. This may be true, but that is not the fault of the hearing aid.  Pabst pointed out that a hearing aid is merely a piece of technology and, like your computer or your car, will need adjustments and tune ups from time to time.  Dr. Pabst recommends that anyone with hearing aids should visit his or her audiologist every six months – perhaps stopping by the audiologist right after they have their teeth cleaned.  And if you hearing aids are acting up between visits – for goodness sake, visit your audiologist to have the problem corrected.  It is not that the devices don’t work, they may just need minor adjustments.
  3. Vanity – Many people don’t want to get hearing aids because they think it will make them “look old.” I am as vain as the next person, but asking someone to repeat themselves continuously because I cannot hear what they say screams old (pardon the pun) far more than having a tiny medical device in my ear.    This is a fact.

Hearing impairment can lead to social isolation – as well as misdirected prayers.

Dr. Pabst also noted that the longer one waits to get a hearing aid, the harder it is to get the hearing aid to work well.  The basic idea is that when you brain does not get signals from your ears for a long period of time – the time you wait to decide that “yes, you really are having problems hearing,” and “yes, this problem is really starting to annoy those around you,” and “yes, having this problem fixed is worth the hit to your vanity of having hearing aids” – the brain starts to retrain itself not to hear.  Early intervention helps the brain with the preservation of the understanding of hearing words.

Hearing impairment can lead to social isolation – as well as misdirected prayers. There appears to be some sort of social stigma with wearing hearing aids.  If we as caregivers can make hearing checks a regular part of our loved one’s medical routine, perhaps we can take having a hearing deficiency out of the social realm and put it back where it belongs in the medical arena.  Can you hear me now?

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I am a family caregiver. My father has dementia. I repeat myself a lot. It’s not easy. Like a lot of you, I have my challenges – I worry that I don’t have enough time for myself and my job and my family while worrying that I don’t give time to my father. I get frustrated and overwhelmed, but caregiving is a responsibility that I cherish. I’m also a CPA and an attorney who’s spent 25 years practicing law. I believe that we as a nation need to have a deeper and more involved conversation around caregivers and our devotion to the loved ones who need us so much. I hope that this site will help that conversation.