This Year of the Pandemic has inflicted unimaginable tragedy on many – illness, death, economic loss, job loss to name a few. For the lucky ones who have escaped those horrors, it has hopefully been a time to reacquaint with family and with yourself at a deeper level.
For many older adults, that time with family may be leading to a realization (often spurred on by family complaints) that your hearing is not perfect. Likely you have also noticed articles in the news about how mask-wearing can further degrade your hearing ability. Masks are essential for health, but they remove important visual clues, such as lip reading and facial expressions, that even people with mild hearing loss rely upon. What is there to do?
First, you may find some online resources to confirm your suspicion of hearing loss. Like temperature, blood pressure, oxygen level and other important health conditions, hearing can be checked at home. On this page of our website, you will find a variety of free online hearing checks that are quick and easy to conduct with the technology that you have at home. These screening checks can give you an indication of whether your hearing is in the normal range or may be declining. If the latter, your next step is a hearing evaluation performed by a licensed hearing health provider. A series of painless hearing tests conducted over about an hour will confirm your hearing status. If you have a hearing loss, the treatment for most adults is amplification – it’s important to your hearing, as well as your intellectual and emotional health (as well as important to your family).
The options for amplification are varied and available in a wide range of styles, benefits and prices. Professionally-dispensed hearing aids (most people with age-related hearing loss will have it in both ears and need two) are programmed to your unique hearing loss. They range from basic digital hearing aids that may be available for less than $1,000 to sophisticated devices that stream your music, telephone, and television audio directly to your hearing aids. Some devices also include technology that reduces that annoying ringing in your ears that many people with hearing loss experience or other advanced features. Our survey has found that hearing aids cost on average $2,200. Whatever level you choose, understand the type of test you will receive, the warranty for the hearing aid, the terms of the follow-up visits, and the return policy.
There are an increasing number of online options that are available at the lower price ranges, typically because they offer less service. As a friend observed to me, I can always park my own car but may choose to pay for valet! Whatever you decide, please try hearing aids. Studies indicate that untreated hearing loss is associated with early cognitive decline, emotional problems, and social isolation. Untreated hearing loss is not a benign condition – take action now, do it for those you love, and do it for yourself.