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Feature Stories

Let the world know about your hearing loss

At 97, Charlotte Gibbons is a little "H of H." And she wants everyone to know.

"H of H" – her shorthand for hard of hearing – is a common problem. About a third of people age 60 and older and half of people 85 and older have some age-related hearing loss, says the American Academy of Audiology. Despite this, Gibbons says, her hearing challenges were most often met with an exasperated, "I SAID. . . "

To avoid feeling demeaned by that annoyed (and annoying) response when she would ask, "What?" Gibbons, of Chicago, would instead try to cover up her hearing problems by finding some excuse to get out of the conversation, she says in a letter to "LifeTimes."

"The final blow was when two friends and I were walking and one said something. Before I could ask her to repeat it, my other friend, in a loud voice, said, 'She is deaf. Talk louder.' Then and there, I decided I would no longer be embarrassed or insulted because of 'H of H.' From that day on, I made it a point to say quietly and with a smile, 'I'm hard of hearing.'"

It has made a difference, she says. There is now much less exasperation – on both sides.
Are you or someone you know "H of H"? How do you handle it? Send us your comments via letter at "LifeTimes," Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, 300 E. Randolph St., 36th Floor, Chicago IL 60601-5099 or email us at LifeTimesDepartment@bcbsil.com.