A month ago, we went to the most expensive Bat Mitzvah celebration I ever attended. It was expensive -- for us -- because somewhere in the middle of a Grand Ballroom at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, my husband lost one of his hearing aids.
Vic has been wearing those ultra-lightweight completely invisible hearing aids in both ears for more than a year now. It's been a joy in every way imaginable. After about a five-year tussle over whether he would agree to get them, as soon as he put them in, we were again able to have conversations in normal voices. I could even whisper sweet-nothings into his ear and he could hear them. His hearing aids enabled him to again go to parties and talk with other guests; and we once again could enjoy the conversation that goes hand-in-hand with eating out in restaurants. Our kids no longer had to shout nouns at their father but could actually engage with him, ask his opinions, and not experience his frustration when he kept insisting they were mumbling.
Yes, the hearing aids gave us our lives as a couple and as a family back. They changed everything, instantly. It was like coming back to life after seeing the white light from the hospital bed. It was nothing short of a miracle and I can't think of any other medical intervention -- not a pill, not a shot -- that packs as powerful a punch as putting in a hearing aid for the first time.
And he just lost one of them.
Hearing aids, for those who aren't there yet, are expensive little buggers. Vic's set us back $4,000. And Medicare, the government medical program that provides care to those over age 65, doesn't cover them. Medicare also doesn't cover vision care, leading me to sincerely believe that our political leaders would prefer that we be deaf, blind -- and dumb, if they could arrange that as well.
There are more than 38 million Americans who need help hearing. And the older you get, the more likely it is that you will join them. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that 18 percent of American adults aged 45 to 64, 30 percent of adults 65 to 74, and 47 percent of adults 75 years old or older have a hearing loss problem.
As for us, we have been living a long lonely month while we wait for his replacement hearing aid to arrive. Fortunately, we took out insurance against loss so are looking at "just" a $200 deductible. And we are trying to remain patient while the paperwork is processed and the new hearing aid delivered.
But it's been a painful reminder of how we lived for five years before he agreed to wear hearing aids. We are again tip-toeing around the eggshells of his disability. Every room he enters is immediately assessed for ceiling height and acoustics; we left a party early because he was just hanging off by himself on the deck, unable to converse with anyone inside the noisy room. I again am texting him what I need at the market rather than shouting into his cell phone. Conversation has again become impossible and misunderstanding and frustration have already started to rule.
I felt foolish calling the hotel and asking if anyone found a virtually invisible hearing aid in their Grand Ballroom; but I called anyway. My daughter cleaned out her Dad's car with the hope of finding it there. We check with his doctor's office daily to see if the new one has yet come in and have an appointment on the books just in case it arrives early.
But reality is we are among the fortunate ones. It took five years to convince him he needed hearing aids and agree to wear them. Our current state of limbo will end in another week or so. Meanwhile, thousands of people who need hearing aids can't or won't get them and for them, my heart bleeds.
We know having seconds or thirds can affect what we see on the scale, but did you know overeating can have an affect on your cognitive abilities? A study presented to the American Academy of Neurology found that "elderly people who eat up to 6,000 calories a day may have a doubled risk of developing ... mild cognitive impairment." So stay ahead of the cognitive curve by consuming the 1,800 calories recommended for people 51 and up.
Nearly 90 percent of people 65 and older take at least one form of medication -- but did you know certain types of medicines can affect your memory? The culprits include medicines that are prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, depression and allergies.
What good is hitting the gym if you're not getting most from your workout? Next Avenue pinpoints the five most common mistakes people make at the gym. The number one offender? Not warming up before you begin your workout. "As we age, all of our systems take a bit longer to function at peak performance," says Scott Weiss, an exercise physiologist based in New York. "Warming up increases the body's temperature, stimulates blood flow to every organ, helps increase the uptake of oxygen on a cellular level and prepares joints and muscles for upcoming exercise."
More boomers are finding themselves unwitting members of a new generation: the Sandwich Generation, or adults who are caregivers to both their children and their parents. This responsibility includes watching out for your parents' health, which often times involves making sure they don't fall victim to prescription drug abuse. "As people age, there is a general decrease in body fat and body-water," explains Dr. John Harsany, an addiction expert and medical director of the Riverside County (Calif.) Substance Abuse program. "This decreases the body's ability to process medications and makes seniors more prone to addiction from a physiological perspective." Keep this article handy to ensure you or someone you love doesn't fall prey to prescription drug abuse.
Tomatoes, rich in the antioxidant lycopene, is just one of five foods middle-aged men should include in their diets. A number of studies have linked lycopene has been linked to reducing the risk of stroke and prostate cancer prevention.
Walnuts were found to reduce the risk of heart disease, the number one killer of women, in a study released by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, the nut is just one of five foods women need to eat.
In the most recent data available, strokes came in at number four as one of the leading causes of death. But there is some good news: 50 percent of strokes are preventable. Kicking your smokes habit is one way to prevent a stroke. Cigarettes have been shown to cause a fatty build up "in the carotid artery, the main neck artery supplying blood to the brain," according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. This blockage is the leading cause of stroke among Americans.
Erectile dysfunction can have many causes both physical and psychological. But did you know that an inability to have an erection could be linked to heart disease? According to doctors, experiencing ED can be the first sign that a man has the risk factors that can lead to cardiac disease. "As you age and if you don’t take care of your risk factors -- if you smoke, don’t eat healthy, don’t control your blood pressure," said Dr. Mehdi Shishehbor, a cardiology specialist at Cleveland Clinic. "Those things can lead to the same process that leads to blockages in the heart and can cause blockages in the penis."
There are almost 62,000 people who have reached the big 1-0-0, according to the most recent Census data. Author Gwen Weiss-Numeroff wanted to find out how they did it, so she interviewed 30 centenarians about their longevity. "The main thing they all had in common was that they all go with the flow... they have a remarkable ability to adapt to change and that is a huge thing," Weiss-Numeroff said. "They don't sweat the small stuff but they take things on, embrace life and move forward."
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