Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing
Studies indicate untreated hearing loss increases health risks such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, social isolation, anxiety and depression. Given that information, you might think people with hearing loss would be flocking to their nearest hearing healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment. Yet they aren’t. In fact, studies indicate most people wait seven to 10 years before doing something about it.
1. I’m afraid they’ll make me look old.
This is a common concern for some people. But in reality, untreated hearing loss can make you appear older, especially if you:
- Ask people to repeat themselves continuously because you didn’t hear them the first time,
- Turn up the volume so high on the television, no one wants to watch it with you anymore,
- Respond inappropriately because you didn’t hear the conversation clearly.
If you’re really self-conscious about the way hearing aids look, ask a hearing healthcare professional if your hearing loss can be treated with a hearing aid style that fits completely in your ear canal, or looks like it’s just a Bluetooth earpiece. Whether it’s a set of earbuds or a hearing aid, as long as it helps you hear better, you’ll not only appear younger, you’ll feel better, too.
2. I don’t like to go to the doctor.
If fear of seeing the doctor is related to a fear of not knowing what will happen at your appointment, let us enlighten you. Although every hearing healthcare professional has their own procedure, here’s a general idea of what you can expect at your first hearing evaluation:
- The hearing healthcare professional or a member of her staff will ask you a series of questions relating to your overall health.
- Your ear canals and eardrums will be painlessly examined with a special light called an otoscope.
- The levels of hearing in each ear will be measured in a sound-treated test booth.
- Once testing is complete, the hearing healthcare professional will discuss the results with you and provide further recommendations and treatment options as needed.
And, please don’t let the cost of the evaluation keep you away, either. Most hearing evaluations cost between $150 and $225 depending upon the tests conducted as well as the age of the patient. Many insurance plans cover this cost (check with your provider) and many hearing centers can help qualified patients find financial assistance.
3. I’m afraid I won’t be able to afford them.
While this is a reasonable fear, it shouldn’t prevent you from seeking treatment for hearing loss. Instead, do a little research. One of these options may be the financial answer you’re looking for:
- Monthly payments. Many hearing health centers offer a payment plan. Some even offer refurbished hearing aids at a discount or have a relationship with a foundation which helps their patients cover some or all costs associated with their hearing health.
- Veteran’s Administration hearing benefits. Are you a veteran? If so, check with your VA. Chances are your hearing health is covered
- Vocational Rehabilitation. If you are a prospective or current college student or are still employed, you may qualify for hearing aids through your state’s vocational rehabilitation program.
- Social service organizations such as Kiwanis, Optimist and Lion’s Clubs often sponsor programs within their communities.
4. I’m afraid they won’t work.
Ah—you’ve been talking to your neighbor again, haven’t you—the one who keeps her hearing aids in the drawer? Or maybe you’re remembering what it was like when your grandmother wore hearing aids 20 years ago? Here’s an update: In the last 10 years, hearing device technology has improved significantly. Today’s hearing devices are better able to distinguish speech from background noise, are smaller and more discreet and are designed to work in tandem with all of your favorite technology (think smartphone, television and computer).
Ten years ago you had to make an appointment to get your hearing aid reprogrammed; today you can do it yourself from a smartphone app.
Ten years ago you had to make an appointment to get your hearing aid reprogrammed; today you can do it yourself from your smartphone. And the neighbor who keeps her hearing aids in the nightstand? It’s time for her to make an appointment with her hearing healthcare professional and have a frank conversation about why she isn’t wearing them. Today, more than ever, there’s no reason to settle for not hearing well — especially when good hearing may be just a minor adjustment away.
5. I’m afraid I’ll lose them.
“I lose my keys every day. And my eyeglasses? Forget about it!” We hear you, there are definitely many surprising ways people lose their hearing aids. But fess up — these are things you either take on and off a lot, right? And at different times, in different locations? Used correctly, hearing aids will most likely be one of the first things you put on in the morning and the last things you take off at night. Make them part of your morning and bedtime routines, and you’ll be able to eliminate this fear easily.
If you’re still not confident you can keep track of them, talk to your insurance agent about adding hearing aids to your personal property insurance.
By shining a light on hearing aid fears, we hope we’ve given you the courage to seek help for your hearing loss sooner rather than later. For a list of hearing healthcare professionals in your area, visit Healthy Hearing’s online directory.