by Annette Pinder

“Excuse me, can you say that again?” If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the U.S. affecting more than 40 million people. Despite this, only 30 percent of Americans with hearing loss seek treatment.

Marie T. Ryan, MA, CC/A, Audiology Supervisor at Buffalo Hearing & Speech Center, encourages adult children to spot signs of hearing loss in their loved ones, and urge them to get tested. Some signs include trouble hearing on the telephone; difficulty following conversations when two or more people are speaking; struggling to hear the television; and having trouble hearing in noisy conditions, such as a crowded restaurant.

“Seniors often overestimate how others will react to them wearing hearing aids, thinking they will be perceived as old, feeble, or kind of dorky. But, what’s interesting is seniors’ perceptions of what makes them look old. While only one in seven with hearing loss wears hearing aids, 50 percent admit to having procedures more commonly associated with vanity, such as Botox injections. People also view hearing aids as large clunky devices that simply amplify sound, but this is no longer the case. In fact, most people can’t even tell if you are wearing them,” says Ryan.

More importantly, Ryan emphasizes that seniors who regularly have their hearing tested are better able to maintain active social lives, extend their careers, and receive diagnoses of potentially more serious medical conditions early. On the other hand, untreated hearing loss makes it difficult to understand a doctor’s advice, respond to doorbells and car horns, which can be dangerous, or enjoy conversations with friends and family. Hearing loss can also lead to social isolation, as seniors remove themselves from social activities and gatherings due to the difficulty of impaired hearing,

As we begin to emerge from the pandemic and see family members in person, Ryan says noticing and addressing hearing issues now can help those with hearing problems more easily participate in social activities and better connect with one another. She says, “While baby boomers and seniors are concerned today about staying and looking young, one of the best ways to do that is to wear hearing aids to treat hearing loss and to remember that hearing aids don’t make you look old. Not wearing them when they’re needed does.”

Buffalo Hearing & Speech Center offers a number of services to assist with hearing loss issues, including free hearing aid evaluations, education, and risk-free, 75-day trial periods with no fee charged if a return is necessary. Offices are conveniently located in Buffalo, Williamsville, Niagara Falls, and West Seneca.

Visit to download a free guide to better hearing and also take an online hearing test. BHSC offers classes in various topics related to hearing aids and hearing. These classes are offered at no charge and include such topics as Hearing Loss and Hearing Aid Advances. Call 885-8318 for more information.