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Now Hear This: Hearing Aids Can Be Stylish

Lois Joy Johnson
My hearing loss was gradual, hereditary and profound.

And I denied it was happening every step of the way.

Though I was only 60 years old, I would replay key scenes in Netflix episodes, max out the volume on SiriusXM radio and fudge my way through conversations on the phone, at parties and in noisy restaurants. Finally I faced reality and got my ears checked by a doctor, then grudgingly went to see an audiologist about getting hearing aids.

But that's not what I call them; I call them my "listeners," and they have changed my life. So don't let vanity get in your way - especially if you constantly find yourself asking friends in conversation, "What was that last bit again?" Based on my own experience, here are a few tips on how to wear hearing aids with style (and thus confidence):

Think small. The new hearing aids are not the big, scary, flesh-toned plugs we remember. Instead, they're cool mini-headphones that incorporate digital technology. An audiologist will suggest the best brand and style to match your degree of hearing loss, ear contours and finances.

>> Get discounts on hearing aids with your AARP Member Advantages

Hearing aid side view

Some hearing aids are internal and, therefore, virtually undetectable. Other models resemble small, chic earbuds.

The ones I wear are a half-in, half-out device: A slim golden half-moon device tucks behind my ear and connects via a clear wire to a tiny transparent receiver in my ear canal. Controlling the noise level and changing the battery are easier than applying eyeliner.

Dress up your devices. Isn't it odd how glasses have become sexy, whereas hearing aids continue to be stigmatized? To combat this, let either one become a "fashion focus" on your face. If your "listeners" are the visible, behind-the-ear types, for example, learn to balance them with your glasses - especially if you wear your hair short or frequently pull it back in a ponytail. Trendy hearing aids in neon or metallic hues mesh well with low-key classic eyeglass frames in black, tortoise, semi-rimless or rimless styles. If your hearing aids go inside the ear, or are visible and toned to match your hair color, pair them with "statement" glasses or conservative frames.

Stylish hearing aid
Use "curl camouflage." For women age 50-plus who want an extra confidence boost when sporting "listeners" in public, keep your hair at least chin-length to cover them. Use a combination of styling products and subtle layers to build in volume and movement at the sides. Dry shampoo and hot rollers make a great daily fullness booster for those with thinning hair. Steer clear of heavy gels, hair bands and flat irons.

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Tame your lobes. The combo of hearing aids, floppy long lobes (they keep growing with age!) and stretched-out ear piercings says "old." So toss the chandeliers and dangling hoops, and get your ears to a cosmetic dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Have those piercings repaired (allow six to eight weeks of healing before you re-pierce). A shot of a filler (such as Restylane or Juvederm) will plump up thin, creased lobes - so your brand-new dazzling studs (which are lightweight and won't compete with your hearing aids) will not droop. Try, for instance, Baublebar Pave Spike 360 Studs ( or littlevenus Leaves Ear Stud (

For more beauty and fashion tips for women age 50-plus, check out my Wardrobe Wakeup: Your Guide to Looking Fabulous at Any Age.

Photos: Lois Joy Johnson by Michael Waring; Lois Joy Johnson by Dr. Robert Kadanoff; earrings,


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