Hearing Aid Denial  Guest Post by Dave Johnson   "Pardon?" That was my father's 'shorthand' for "Pardon me, missed that; would you please say that again?And as a high-school kid, I would sit there and think, "just admit that you have a bad hearing problem, go out and get hearing aids, and rejoin the human race!".  It was ten more years before Dad got his first set of hearing aids.  I really never could figure out his reluctance to admit that he had a hearing problem. . . .  Until I turned sixty-nine and discovered myself going through the same process. We live in a culture where graying hair, baldness, wrinkles, or age spots are a precursor to a  rapid downhill decline.  And, getting old in America is still not cool.  Sort of like getting leprosy in biblical times.  Not good. But, back to my problem;  at first, while quietly struggling to hear people conversing with me, I would move closer to the speaker, almost imperceptibly usurping that small and precious no-mans land we refer to as our 'personal space.' This would generally result in 'creeping out' the speaker, and cause him to instinctively move back one step, totally eliminating the advantage gained.  I never did attempt to read lips. The second ploy, even though it seemed to be a good idea at the time, was;  if I missed part of the sentence, but saw a smile, a nod, and a look of eager expectancy in the speaker's eyes - I would just AGREE to keep the speaker happy and maintain the even flow of the conversation. That went fine until, during one fateful conversation,  I came to the realization that I had just joined The Tea Party.  It makes me wonder how many people hiding their deafness have accepted marriage proposals and have later been too embarrassed to reverse the outcome. What amazes me in this anecdote,  is that I got sucked in to the very same behavior that my father displayed just fifty years ago.  I don't think it's male vanity that keeps us in denial when our hearing starts to go; as we age, our bodies usually betray us in many other, more obvious ways.  We sustain heart surgeries, face lifts, tummy tucks, knee and hip replacements, and dentures, and there is rarely a ripple in our 'macho' reservoir of anxiety. So why is it that many of us are in such denial over something as simple as hearing loss?  Well, here are a few thoughts on the subject.  First and foremost, we are 'hearing' twenty-four hours a day.  Unless caused by trauma of some sort, hearing loss is VERY gradual and hence insidious process. We just don't see it coming because it just creeps up in us. Second, our various surgeries, cortisone shots, and multiple prescriptions don't 'show;' they are non- invasive, subtle. reminders of our aging. One primary reason for our denial is because some of us remember the analogue hearing aids if twenty five years ago. They were large and bulky with plastic ear molds, that whistled loudly as a result of feedback, and were many times turned off by the wearer so that he or she could escape the badly amplified sound that the appliance was pumping into their heads.  Most of these units merely amplified the sound  of people talking around us and did little to define and isolate the sound frequencies that we couldn't pick up as a result of our specific hearing loss. Luckily, hearing aid technology has advanced rapidly over the last ten years, and the newer, smaller and more efficient units, both analogue and digital, are available in models that are readily programmable (and adaptable) to the wearer's individual hearing needs. No longer is special emphasis placed on HIDING the hearing aid; in fact, the newer 'behind the ear' models are being sold in a wide variety of bright colors and contemporary graphic designs. When President Clinton opted for a pair of digital hearing aids to supplement his hearing loss a few years ago, many Americans began to realize that the stigma associated with wearing hearing aids was rapidly fading away. Now that our culture has given the nod to defeating this unspoken hurdle, when are you going to 'man- up' and get your hearing tested