Cute Hearing Aids for Rock & Roll Boomer Chicks
by Christina Gregoire
Baby Boomers were raised on loud music, so it’s no wonder that many of us are starting to say, “Huh?” or “Ummmm…did you just say that God put Adam In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida?”
Well, people our age are fortunate that inventors are trying to capture the lucrative Boomer market, because the newest hearing aids are really cool. You can find hardware that’s virtually invisible, cute like jewelry, or made to work with Bluetooth technology.
Yes, I’m one of those Baby Boomers who is starting to experience hearing loss of high-pitched sounds. Well, after years of cranking up "Layla", "Brown Sugar", and Boston's "Don't Look Back", is it any wonder? And, while my doctor said that I’m not quite ready for a hearing aid, I wouldn’t hesitate to wear one if it would help me understand my fellow human beings.
Loud Music Did It
Hip, music-loving Boomers have always known that hearing loss would catch up with us eventually. There’s just no way that we could stand that close to those huge, pounding speakers and have fans screaming next to our ears without some kind of sacrifice. Yes, those Rolling Stones’ concerts were worth it, but now it’s time to face the music.
Baby Boomer Rockers With Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is nothing new to rockers, as well as to music fans.
- Pete Townshend, from The Who, has severe hearing damage and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) which causes pain.
- Neil Young, from Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, went acoustic in the 90s because of damaged hearing.
- Bono, from U2, got his nickname from a hearing-aid store in Dublin called Bonavox Hearing Aids.
A few others with hearing problems are Sting, Ted Nugent, Phil Collins, Cher, Mick Fleetwood, Bob Seger, Jeff Beck, Peter Frampton (from his wawa pedal), Bob Dylan, and the late George Harrison.
Hearing Aid Hipness
Fortunately, the marketplace has responded with innovations such as invisible hearing aids, open-ear hearing aids that look like jewelry, and Bluetooth hearing aids. Of course, price is always a consideration, however, a more important factor for me and for most Boomer Chicks is that we never look like "seniors" and are never called "seniors". (Why do you think we color our graying hair?)
Cool Digital Hearing Aids
Quick, what kind of hearing aid does Bill Clinton wear? Who knows? He started wearing hearing aids in both ears when he was 51 (in 1997), but he wore CIC hearing aids (Completely In Canal), so very few people knew of his significant hearing loss during his presidency.
Modern hearing aids are small, effective "mini ear computers” and are similar to something Steve Austin, “The Six Million Dollar Man”, would have worn. So, Boomers, with CIC aids, should think of themselves as first generation Cyborgs (cybernetic organisms).
Digital hearing aids are amazing because they adapt to the preferences of the wearer. When environmental sound becomes too loud, the volume automatically adjusts. When sounds are too soft, the volume cranks up a notch. How flipping cool is that?
*Pros of CIC Hearing Aids:
- Reduced distortion and acoustic feedback
- Increased comfort
- Cosmetically superior
*Cons of CIC Hearing Aids:
- No manual volume button
- Extra maintenance problems
Open Ear Hearing Aids That Look Like Jewelry
Not all hearing aids look like your grandchild has stuffed Silly Putty into your ear. Some "aural accessories", like the Siemens Vibe, have become fashion statements.
The Vibe comes in leopard or punky racing-flag checks and sits in the crest of your ear, where it can be seen, leaving the ear canal unblocked. This device looks like the wearer has adopted a trendy new style of cartilage ear piercing.
The Vibe has cool technology to:
Minimize irritating noise, like papers rustling or pots and pans banging.
- Block feedback. (Feedback = good in concerts; bad in heads.)
- Change microphone placement. Sound directionality uses the ear’s natural funnel shape.
And, Siemens is not the only company to come out with cool “sonic perception upgrade devices”, so look around for new kinds of attractive gadgets. We are Boomers, after all, so companies are always experimenting with new technology that will attract our attention, like the modern, space-age design of the Delta Oticon.
Bluetooth Hearing Aids
Bluetooth is a short-distance wireless technology. The Bluetooth headset/earphones are those devices that young people stick on their heads or over their ears so they can talk on the phone wherever they go. You know what I mean…like when you think some guy is asking you how you’re doing, because he’s standing right next to you, but after saying, “Fine, thank you, and how are you?” you realize that your new “friend” is actually talking to some chick in Helsinki…that’s a Bluetooth.
So, companies have made hearing aids that look similar to Bluetooth headsets. Instead of making your hearing aid smaller and less visible, the idea is to make you look like a young, techno-savvy hipster.
Remember that there is no shame in rocker chicks admitting that they have hearing loss. “Noise-induced sensory recession” can be caused by many loud sounds, but rock music is the most likely culprit. Thankfully, Baby Boomers make up a big market, and we have inspired a new wave of groovy hearing-aid designs.
Good enough for Jodie Foster, good enough for me.
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Resources for Hearing Specialists: