I know that something is not quite right. I just can’t put my finger on it. I seem to be a little outside the conversation, asking my friends and colleagues to repeat things more times than is comfortable. I’m uncomfortable enough to withdraw a little. Afraid of the times I’ve been told that my response to a question has been off the mark. Aware of the times that I didn’t respond when I should have.

I know that something is just not right.

I was always mentally sharp, able to answer questions with accuracy, humor, and often with drips of sarcasm. The people around me were quick to respond with smiles and even laughter at my wit. It’s not like that now. People give me quizzical looks rather than smiles. They ask if I’m feeling okay rather than reward me with praise for my funny, sometimes off-color, responses.

For a while, I was receiving a near constant flow of invitations to meet and dine with friends, attend professional conferences, meet with others involved in the same line of work I was doing. These invitations have slowed to a trickle. I don’t even get invitations to attend my own family’s events. Friday evening card games, something I’ve always looked forward to has stopped. Have they stopped? Or am I no longer being invited? And if that’s the case, why? I’m not sure of much of anything anymore.

I just know that something is not right.

My family says that my hearing is really bad and I should get it checked and start wearing a hearing aid in each ear. I can hear just fine but I admit that it would be very helpful if the people around me would stop mumbling. Even my grandchildren can’t seem to talk clearly… mumbling all the time. Must be all the time they spend texting on their cellphones. I wonder if they ever talk since they don’t seem to know how to. Can’t imagine how their teachers understand them let alone their friends and classmates.

No, it’s not my hearing. I just need to turn up the volume a little and I can still enjoy my favorite television programs. But even the actors seem to be mumbling more than they used to. I am beginning to wonder if they have started to make apartment buildings out of tissue paper these days? My upstairs neighbor is constantly complaining that my TV is too loud. I know that it isn’t, I can hear it just fine. Too soft maybe, but it is definitely not too loud. Wouldn’t I be the first to know? And the first to tone it down?

Something is just not quite right and I can’t put my finger on it.

My family comes to visit and they hardly talk to me and when they do they are always yelling. I don’t think that I want them to visit anymore. It seems to stress everyone out too much. I will certainly miss them, but to have them sit silently and look at me like I’m sick and always be yelling. Yes, I’ll miss them but maybe it’s better.

I don’t go out much anymore. Staying home feels safe. I don’t need anyone raising their voice to me when they can’t even talk clearly. I can hear them talking but it isn’t my fault that I can’t understand what they’re saying. If only they could speak without mumbling.

I’m pretty much alone now, even my family has stopped coming to visit. Oh, occasionally one of them will stop by for a minute but they don’t want to talk. I guess they just want to see if I am still alive.

I’ve become pretty lonely and I guess pretty depressed. I went to the doctor and she said I need to get my hearing checked. I told her that I hear just fine, it is the people that just can’t talk. She said if I don’t begin to use hearing aids my mental state would only get worse. She said that hearing loss can lead to dementia. I told her quite admittedly that I don’t need to have my hearing checked and I certainly don’t need or want hearing aids. She didn’t say anything after that. I guess I shouted at her out of anger and frustration.

Yesterday a young man knocked on the door of my apartment. He said he was my grandson but I didn’t recognize him at all. I think it was some kid out to rob me. I cracked open the door and told him to go away and never come back. He started to cry. Must be a new tactic to get into an old man’s house. He left when I slammed the door shut and double bolted it.

Went to the store last night, or at least I tried to. Seems that they moved the stores without saying a word to anyone. I’ve been walking around for hours. Headed back to my apartment but they moved that as well. Nothing is where it was.

I asked a police officer to take me home. I think he asked where I lived but I couldn’t understand what he was asking, and when I finally did, I couldn’t remember my address. He asked my name and I couldn’t remember that either.

I know that something is not quite right but I just can’t put my finger on it.

May is better hearing and speech month. Please have your hearing checked yearly.

(c) 2019 Alan R. Ehrlich

Alan R. Ehrlich
Chair, Listening DIsorders Division, Global Listening Centre (www.globallisteningcentre.org)