“What did you say?” or “What’s that?” might mean other people are not talking loudly enough or you are having hearing problems? Many years ago, when I phoned my aging parents, my mother said, “When I give the phone to dad, tell your father that he needs a hearing aid.”

When I started talking to my father, we talked about the weather, how the corn harvest was going in Iowa . . . and then “Dad, Mom thinks you should get a hearing aid.” He responded, “Son, I have listened to her for over 50 years. Recently, I just tuned her out.”

Maybe, it’s not a hearing problem, maybe it’s selective hearing. As we age, so do our body parts. Our ears are complicated parts that are impacted by many events in life. We might have worked in a noisy factory, spent time in a war zone, lived in a bustling large city, exposed to endless noise from a teenager’s music, and lived a life of many sounds.

Large two-page ads in a newspaper expose us to “what are you missing?’ Direct mail packets contain invitations to get a “hearing screening” along with a “complete auditory canal evaluation.”

I made an appointment for a video otoscope inspection. In preparation, the trained and certified hearing aid specialist found an earwax buildup and removed a plug. I was able to hear better in minutes.

As I sat in a sound-proof room, the board-certified professional challenged me to listen to various sounds. There were high and low frequency beeps. With the audiometric equipment, I was shown a map of my responses and measures of my reactions to various decibels.

After the test results were reviewed, I was fitted with a hearing aid. Wow! I could hear so much better. The device in my ear magnified the sounds and my own voice. I was hearing sounds I could not hear without the hearing aid. I hear the train near my residence, dripping water, the grandfather clock clanging, and the icemaker dropping loads of cubes. What more could I want?

I learned more about hearing bones and how hearing loss was connected to cardiovascular disease, dementia, diabetes, depression, falling, kidney disease, hospitalization and mortality. The bottom line is the gift of sound. Hearing loss is preventable. Buying aids is the challenge!

Ed Baranowski can be contacted at fast75sr@gmail.com