Succeeding With Hearing Aids in the Spotlight

A number of famous professionals handle their hearing loss issues and have used hearing aids while in the spotlight — probably without you even knowing it. That they can succeed in an environment where verbal communication is their core activity shows just how seamlessly a hearing aid can be incorporated into someone’s everyday life.

Although she is very protective of her private life, the actress Jodie Foster has opened up about both her hearing loss and vertigo issues. She is best known for her work both as a child actor — Taxi Driver (1976) and Bugsy Malone (1976) — and her adult career, highlighted by Contact (1997), Panic Room (2002), and her Oscar-winning performances in The Accused (1988) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Vertigo is oftentimes associated with hearing loss, since one common cause is mineral fragments detaching from the cochlea and free-floating in the fluids of the inner ear. Foster has been photographed at public events sporting her hearing aid.

The late actor and comedian Leslie Nielsen, who died in 2010, worked for years in Hollywood while using hearing aids. And he did this in the years before small, technologically advanced units were on the market. Best known for the comedies Airplane! (1980) and The Naked Gun series (1988–1994) — though he’d had a rich career as a dramatic actor in both television and motion pictures in the 1950s and 60s — Nielsen not only wore hearing aids, but did so very openly. He became an impromptu spokesperson for hearing aids, explaining in an interview: “It’s not really that I’ve been an advocate for hearing aids for a long time, it’s just that I’ve been losing my hearing for a long time! So it’s actually very important for me because I’m actually hearing impaired and I simply want to hear better!”

Former president Bill Clinton has been wearing RIC (receiver-in-canal) hearing aids in both ears for some time. Suffering from moderate high-frequency hearing loss —the suspicion is listening to loud music and spending so much time in the loud environment of political rallies without ear protection — have led to hearing loss later in life. Clinton freely admits that he ignored the issue for years and finally had to deal with it when it was picked up as part of a routine physical exam.

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