“My wife said I don’t listen to her. At least, I think that’s what she said.”
Hearing loss is one of those things we like to joke about – often from embarrassment! The fact is that almost 40 million American adults suffer from some type of hearing loss; yet only 1 in 5 who could benefit from intervention like a hearing aid actually wear one. Why the resistance?
- Denial: Most people, particularly the elderly, don’t want to admit they have a problem. “I hear what I want to hear” is a common protest, or “I could hear just fine if people would stop mumbling.” The fact is that most hearing loss involves high-frequency, where most consenants live, and so it’s common to mix up those sounds (hence the perception of mumbling). Hearing loss can also be gradual, so that the person involved adjusts incrementally and is the last to realize there’s a real issue that needs addressing.
- Vanity: Most people still have the outdated misperception of hearing devices as bulky, cumbersome, and protruding from people’s ears – that’s like thinking of a 1970s Walkman instead of an iPhone! J Today’s fitted hearing aids. For example, are sleek, discreet, and barely noticeable. And an audiologist takes a great deal of time and care to fit them properly, as well as to insure they’re programmed to address the wearer’s level of hearing impairment.
- Cost: In the case of custom-fit hearing aids, most can run anywhere from $1,000-6,000 a pair. Medicare and most private insurers don't cover such devices, but it’s always worth checking your health plan. Also, talk to your physician about payment plans – most offices like ours offer than kind of option. And veterans may be eligible to get free hearing aids at their local Veterans Affairs facility.
These considerations aside – ignoring hearing loss can be dangerous. First, because the ear plays such a critical role in balance, hearing loss can actually greatly increase your risk of falling . Second, some studies suggest a link between hearing loss and the development of dementia – perhaps because of the isolation resulting from hearing impairment. Lastly, it’s important to remember that untreated hearing loss can worse over time, and that decline is not reversable.
Ask yourself some questions, and answer honestly:
- Do I have trouble hearing people on the phone?
- Do I have problems following along with a conversation when more than a few people are talking?
- Do others complain that I have the TV turned up too loud?
- Do people seem to be mumbling?
If the answer to two or more of these is yes, then spare yourself the unnecessary frustration and embarrassment, and get a full evaluation. If you’re not ready to consider a device like a hearing aid, your otolaryngologist can discuss lots of options for you - a Personal Sound Amplifying Product (PSAP), a TV listening system, or a telephone amplifying device – just to name a few!
Want more info? Give us a call anytime! 508.746.8977 in Plymouth, and 508.759.0916 in Bourne.