Health & Well-Being

Hearing Aids: Do’s and Certainly Don’ts

The more you know…

Before we begin this next installment of our ‘Things You Should Know’, we just wanted to follow up on our last edition, ‘Glasses’. Some folks liked the piece and others, not so much. Perhaps they had trouble reading it! Bad Taste? {We will at some point run this article again if you missed it.)

Starting fresh, let’s get to it. Today’s topic is hearing aids.

Hearing Aids are something this writer knows quite a bit about. My wife wears these little devils, and has had a time of it getting them adjusted, recalibrated and most importantly comfortable. After all, you are wearing these devices 12-14 hours per day, depending upon how much sleep you need.

A comparison she reminds me of, is if you are a swimmer and you wear those silicon ear pieces to keep your ears free of pool water, think what that would feel like all day, every day. Not fun, by any means.

In these last several years, hearing aids are worn by more than one third. of us over the age of 65. Many people who actually need them elect not to get them, but still of course suffer from hearing loss. The big change in hearing aids now is that a ‘good pair of audiologist prescribed and serviced will cost you in the neighborhood of 6 thousand dollars. (unfortunately, Medicare will lend you no hope, the bill is on you.) 

Hearing aids come in all shapes, sizes and prices

However, there are alternatives. Many of the large box retail and cut rate stores will start you off with a pair for under $300. Some will climb to two thousand, and these are supposedly more accurate, and like everything else in your life you can adjust them with your mobile phone.

OK, which ones do you actually need? Can you get away with a $500 pair or do you move on to the big time. Several things to know here; for example what is a better car, a Prius or a Tesla? Which one do you really need? That might be a bit simplistic, but not totally off the mark. The real answer is “only your audiologist knows the secret”, and when she gives you the answer money will certainly be part of your decision.

Starting at the beginning, what is hearing loss and what can be done about it? Hearing loss is different for different people, and the only constant being you can’t hear well, as well as you used to, and for some not at all. One of the most common forms of hearing loss is sensorineural hearing loss. This occurs when the inner ear (cochlea) or hearing nerve is damaged or does not work properly. With sensorineural hearing loss, sounds are not only softer, but also difficult to understand — especially when it is noisy. For many of us these may be our symptoms. High-frequency loss is another form of sensorineural hearing loss, it occurs when you hear lower pitched sounds but not the the higher ones.

There are other types as well but this isn’t a medical paper. It’s an overview of what you might have to deal with, and in many cases what a good pair of hearing aids can and cannot do.

Whether you believe the 300 hundred dollar aids will work or if you need something a bit better (not meaning bells and whistles) but more technologically advanced, is a decision for you and your doctor., However there is one more thing you might consider when thinking abut the possibility that you need hearing aids in the first place. If you think you need them, you do.  

This choice may come with the caveat that you live with someone. As I mentioned, as a partner in a long and wonderful marriage, I live with someone who wears and has worn hearing aids for many years. If you are in my shoes, remember if you are going to speak with your hearing impaired partner, always check and see if they have their hearing aids ‘on’. Many times I have spoken with my wife only to have her smile at me and go on eating dinner. Other times I have shouted quite loudly, only for her to say, “Stop shouting I can hear you”. (That is never a pretty sight).

So, if you are wearing hearing aids, tell your partner when you are taking them off. If you are the partner, check and see hearing aids in or out and adjust your volume accordingly.

Finally when your partner feels down about having to wear these devilish things, tell her “Honey, it could be worse”. That’s all you tell her. But what you are thinking is “Yes, it could be worse — I could be wearing them also”!!!

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