Hearing loss affects 50% of people over age 85, most commonly men. Poor hearing diminishes quality of life. It may bring on frustration in daily interactions with others. It can even be at the root of withdrawal from social activities. Hearing loss also carries risk, because you may not notice a shouted warning or may misunderstand a doctor’s instructions. Fortunately, there are some solutions.
HEARING AIDS – The current generation of hearing aids bears little resemblance to those of old.
- Appearance. With new technology, hearing aids today are barely visible. Even the traditional behind-the-ear style is smaller. Only a slender tube extends into the ear canal.
- Quality of improvement. According to Consumer Reports, 73% of people with hearing aids are satisfied with their purchase. Behind-the-ear, open-fit designs are ranked highest for the most difficult hearing situation: loud, social gatherings.
- Comfort and use. Many styles and types are available. Choose a provider who offers follow-up service to fine-tune fit and volume. Be sure the purchase includes a trial period and refund.
Cost remains a challenge. A pair of hearing aids costs $1500 – $7000 (average $3000). Medicare covers the diagnostic exam but not the hearing aids. A supplemental health plan may provide coverage. Help is available to Veterans through the VA.
ASSISTIVE DEVICES – A number of stand-alone assistive devices are also available. These support hearing in specific situations. Look for personal amplifiers, which fit in the pocket. They are an easy, inexpensive first step. You might also consider TV earphones and special telephone options.
If you have a relative that has hearing loss that has not been corrected, you can also try these tips to improve communication:
- Face your relative.
- Speak a bit slower than usual.
- Turn off or avoid background noise. Move to another room if need be.
- Stop shouting! Volume is only part of the problem. Seniors with hearing loss tend to have difficulty with high tones (pitch) and certain consonants. If you can, make your voice lower and only slightly louder.
Learn more at the website of the Hearing Loss Association of America.
* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.