Tom Kersting

Psychotherapist and author Tom Kersting shares his story of hearing loss — and hearing gain

Contributed by Tom Kersting

5/26/2021 12:00:00 AM • 10 min read

Tags • News and Events

Is your spouse tired of the television being too loud? Are you frustrated when you ask someone to repeat themselves and they say, “Oh, forget it?” I experienced this all the time, along with a lot more, and finally parted ways with my stubborn self and did something about it. I got hearing aids.

As a mental health therapist for over twenty years, my hearing has always been a challenge for me — not good when your job requires you to do a lot of listening. I’ve had mild hearing loss since I was a child, but hearing aids were never considered a necessity for me. I missed some things, probably more than I realized, and I was able to get by with my mild hearing loss.

As I’ve gotten older, however, my hearing has gotten worse, but still not to a degree that required hearing aids — or so I thought. It was about four years ago that I noticed myself really struggling to hear some of my patients, particularly those who spoke in a high tone. I had to ask them if they could speak a bit louder for me, which was a little embarrassing, to be quite honest. Furthermore, my wife and kids also noticed that my hearing had gotten worse. They would tell me the television was way too loud, and they would also become frustrated as I constantly had to ask them to speak up. Their frustrations made me frustrated, too. So I sat down one day and talked to my stubborn self and decided to take action.

Three years ago, at the ripe old age of 45 (yes, I said 45!), I finally got hearing aids. My first “wow” moments happened the very first night I was wearing them. It was a beautiful summer evening as I sat on my couch to watch a baseball game. When I turned on the television, I couldn’t believe how clear it sounded, not to mention that I had the volume set at 18 instead of 58. A few innings into the game, I decided to open the window behind me to get some fresh air. That’s when “wow” moment number two happened. It seemed like I was being invaded by millions of critters that were chirping away in the night air. Hearing this brought me back to my childhood, which was the last time I had heard that beautiful summer-night sound.

Although I put it off for years, getting and using my hearing aids was never something I really thought twice about once I decided to do it. In fact, I don’t look at myself as someone who has hearing loss, but someone who now has hearing gain because of all the things I regained as a result. I now ask myself why I waited so long. Now, I cannot guarantee everyone with any degree and type of hearing loss will be able to be helped the same way I have been. But for most, I’ll leave you with five things you may also immediately gain by addressing your hearing loss:

  1. You will get along better with your family. Seriously, your hearing loss is frustrating to others, which causes you to be frustrated, too. When the frustrations are removed, relationships improve — period.
  2. You will feel more intelligent. After I got my hearing aids, I heard my own voice in a different, better way, and I noticed immediately that I spoke more clearly and concisely. I literally felt smarter.
  3. Everything you hear will seem crisp and clear. Often, poor hearing isn’t really about not hearing at all, it’s about clarity. In other words, you can hear, but you can’t understand what you’re hearing because it is muffled. Once you get hearing aids, that all changes.
  4. You will be happier. Many folks with hearing loss can suffer from symptoms of depression because poor hearing may make you feel sort of alone and isolated. Once you address your hearing issues, you feel part of the world again, which can go a long way toward feeling happier.
  5. You will feel younger. An unfortunate stigma around hearing loss is that bad hearing means you are getting old. As someone who started wearing hearing aids at age 45, the question I ask is: And? Wouldn’t it make sense to improve your hearing and feel young again as a result of all the things you regain?

For all these reasons and many more, I’m thrilled to be teaming up with HearingLife to spread the message of #HearingGain. May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, so there’s no better way to celebrate it than by finally doing what you’ve been putting off — scheduling a hearing consultation. It’s also Mental Health Awareness Month, so it’s an important time to take stock of what might be keeping you or a loved one from taking those first steps. My kids may not think I know everything, but this I feel passionate about — you won’t regret getting your hearing tested.

Tom Kersting is a licensed psychotherapist, retired public school counselor and the author of Disconnected: How to protect your kids from the harmful effects of device dependency. He is a regular guest expert on many television news shows, including the TODAY Show, FOX & Friends, and more. Tom has also hosted various television series for A&E Network, Food Network, and the National Geographic Channel, offering insights and advice about parenting, relationships, and wellness. Because Tom is passionate about sharing his hearing experiences, he is working with HearingLife to spread awareness about #HearingGain.  He lectures throughout the country and is the founder and owner of Valley Family Counseling Center in Ridgewood, NJ.