I've long suspected that my hearing might not be as keen as it once was. There's no specific reason why my hearing would be diminished. As a teen and young adult, I went to a few concerts, but I wouldn't say that I was a regular. Nor did I frequently plug my ears in to my Walkman (the ancient version of the iPod) or blast music in my room after school.
But it does seem like everyone is mumbling sometimes. I call my husband a "tall talker" because he's a full foot taller than I am and when he turns his head away from me, his words don't seem to make it to my ears.
Still, I've never really contemplated having my hearing tested. I have a zillion reasons why, with the most notable being ... who's got time for that? But I was intrigued when I came across an NPR story the other day about a hearing test that you can take in the privacy of your own home, using your phone.
The test, called the National Hearing Test, costs just $5 and provides immediate feedback with individual assessments for both ears. At the moment, AARP members can take the test for free.
But as I'm still a few years away from AARP membership, I ponied up my fiver, received a 10-digit access code and a toll-free number to use for taking the test.
The main drawback of the test is that you're ideally supposed to take it on a corded, landline phone with a keypad. Talk about ancient technology! I haven't had a landline in about 10 years, let alone a corded telephone with a separate keypad and receiver. And I honestly don't know anyone else who has a phone like that anymore either.
But wavering cellphone connections and sound quality make cellphones less than ideal units for testing hearing. Still, I decided to take my chances and take the test using my mobile, accepting the caveat that the results may not be as accurate as they would be on a landline.
Unlike the hearing tests I remembered from childhood, this test did not consist of beeps and tones. Rather, as I held the phone to either my left or right ear as instructed, I heard a series of three numbers over various levels of scratchy background noise. I then had to type in the number sequence on my phone's keypad. Once I did, I heard the next sequence of numbers.
I'm not gonna lie, I flat-out guessed at some of those sequences, growing more and more apprehensive about my hearing as the test went on. But in the end, I was delighted to learn that my hearing for both my left and right ears is within the normal range. Had it not been, I would have been directed to a page on the hearing test website with information about follow-up tests and finding professional help in my area.
As it turns out, my hearing is just fine, and everyone around me really is mumbling all of the time.
I'm not sure what kind of recommendations they have to cure that.