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by Abigail Van Buren

Grandfather Tunes Into Life Thanks to New Hearing Aid

DEAR ABBY: We recently moved back to Texas to be closer to my parents, allowing me to spend some wonderful time with my 88-year-old grandfather. My letter is for all people who wear hearing aids. He has just returned with his digital hearing aid, and it is like he is alive again!

He tried many different kinds, and actually had a shoebox he threw them into when they didn't work. So far, this one has done the trick. He hears everything without having to adjust the volume. It doesn't pick up the background noise that he has always complained about.

He went running into the kitchen because he thought he heard the washing machine making a funny noise. It was actually the refrigerator motor. He said he hasn't heard that humming noise in years! He also told me he hears traffic noises he hasn't heard in quite some time. (A good thing!)

Please tell your readers not to throw away their old hearing aids because there are organizations that will take them. Doctors use them for children in poor countries. And please, Abby, urge anyone who has difficulty hearing not to be embarrassed to have their hearing checked. It could be the beginning of a whole new life. -- SUSAN IN AUSTIN, TEXAS

DEAR SUSAN: Hear, hear! An estimated 20 million Americans suffer from some kind of hearing loss. I was once told about a sign hanging in an audiologist's office: "Your hearing loss is far more obvious to everyone else than your hearing aid will be."

Anyone with a hearing aid to donate should contact HEAR NOW, a national nonprofit organization that provides hearing aids to people with limited financial means. The hearing aids should be mailed in a small box or padded envelope to: HEAR NOW, 4248 Park Glen Road, Minneapolis, MN 55416. The contribution is tax deductible, so please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope for your receipt for tax purposes.

DEAR ABBY: What makes you think that the wife who is "visiting" her friends at 2 a.m. might be hanging out with a colony of bats? No self-respecting bat is home at that time. During the night hours, they are hard at work ridding the world of hundreds of billions of bugs or pollinating millions of plants and trees.

Unlike some unhappy humans, bats don't have the luxury of too much time on their hands. A bat mom likes nothing so much as hanging out with her baby and all her other bat mom friends and their babies. There's no time for bat hanky-panky.

Please, Abby. Our friends the bats don't need more bad publicity, or to have their reputation endlessly maligned. Humans must realize that their fear of bats stems from ignorance. Instead of posing a threat, bats are highly beneficial to humans. The reality is that less than one person a year in the United States dies from bat rabies. That's minuscule compared to the number who die from bee stings, bicycle accidents, lightning strikes, drowning while swimming or spousal abuse.

I recommend bat education for all. -- BAT ADVOCATE IN SEATTLE

DEAR BAT ADVOCATE: (Now here's a topic we can sink our teeth into.) I respect your going to bat for your furry flying friends; however, when I questioned whether the wife was hanging out with a colony of bats, I was alluding to the fact that they are nocturnal creatures. I was not implying that they were promiscuous or poor mothers. Personally, I've never met a bat I haven't liked. If you were offended, please forgive me.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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