Hearing Aids: Why Bother?
Written By: Ian Henderson (Audiologist at the Art of Hearing)
Republished and edited with permission from Audiology Now (Summer Edition 2007)
Common Reasons Given for Not Trying Hearing Aids
In most cases, the resistance is an understandable, human one. We are all avoiding self-improvement in one way or another! Personal experience of the acceptance and benefits of hearing aids is given below by Marion Downs. Marion was better known for her pioneering work in Paediatric Audiology, however she is also an extraordinary “senior go-getter”. At 94 years of age Marion was still an avid snow-skier and Seniors Olympics Tennis Champion. She authored “Shut Up and Live” (Penguin,2007), a primer for seniors wishing to live life to the fullest.
Postscript: Professor Downs passed away several years after contributing to this article. Her care for children and seniors of the world lives on.
Forward by Marion Downs
“The audiologist is often hard-put to answer the excuses and complaints of people who should be wearing hearing aids. The following suggestions furnish responses that will help the audiologist persuade the unwilling to attempt to wear their aids, As I now have over 50 dB average loss and am receiving excellent help from my aids, I can remember the initial reluctance one has to trying out aids.
What I came to realise is that a hearing loss can destroy a good relationship. That happened to me when both my husband and I began to have hearing losses. He was an Ear Nose & Throat Specialist, I an Audiologist – yet the word “What?” became a part of both our vocabularies. When we had to repeat a thought to the other person, we had to raise our voices. When you raise your voice, you sound angry. Anger does not make for a happy marriage. Thank heaven, we both realized what was happening, and both got hearing aids. Our life together became happy again.”
“I won’t be around long enough to justify spending money on myself….”
- Clear communication with family, friends and doctors is especially important at this time of life.
- We frequently see clients who once said “I won’t be around long…”. They keep coming back, their hearing aids keep adding to their quality of life!
“I don’t want to repeat my neighbour’s mistake – he spent $8,000 on hearing aids and just keeps them in the top drawer…”
- It’s not possible to predict your experience of hearing aids from someone else’s; there are great differences in hearing loss, technology, fine-tuning, ear canals, personality etc
- Most “top-drawer” issues can be resolved, especially with the new technology e.g. whistling management, reduction of the “blocked up feeling, noise-reducing circuitry, smaller ear pieces, technology for phones, TV etc
- Some people become discouraged and don’t return to have these fully resolved
- It’s important to know that clarity and comfort may take a series of appointments to “get it right”. That’s because hearing aid adjustments are assessed not just in the clinic, but also your day to day life. What you report back to us helps make better hearing aid adjustments.
- We see many, many people who – after a good choice of hearing aids and aftercare – get daily benefit i.e. in the ears, not the top drawer!
“I know my hearing’s not good, but I’m going to wait for a few years more…”
- The longer your leave it, the more difficult it is for the brain to adapt to amplification
- While you’re “waiting” the quality of your relationships will be eroded month-by-month, year-by-year. That represents lost time, which a later fitting of even the world’s best technology won’t return to you!
“My family complain that I’m mishearing – but I’m not worried…”
- The fact it doesn’t worry you (yet) is a sign its “creeping up” on you. This will increase, – as will people’s avoidance of frustrating conversation with you!
- Reducing family annoyance resultant from “early” hearing loss is important for good long-term relationships
- Hearing aids would directly assist in this, plus – you would hear details you possibly didn’t realise you were missing out on (after all, how do you know what you don’t hear?)
People mumble these days/young people just don’t enunciate properly
- The numbers of mumblers in the world probably hasn’t increased, however as your hearing does down you become more and more aware of who they are!
“I’m 45 – too young/or vain for hearing aids…”
- The way you respond will tell people you have a hearing loss more than a hearing aid will – you can’t “hide” it!
- The social style of a middle-aged person with untreated hearing loss is similar to that of a “senior”
- Hearing aids and wireless devices are now v discrete and comfortable.
“I’m not deaf…” (minimal-mild loss)
- Agreed – you’re not “stone-deaf”, however you’ve lost an “edge”, so will miss important details every day
- …especially so in noise and at a distance. Even paper rustling is enough to wipe out parts of key words, in turn the whole point (or joke) someone is making
- It is typical with this kind of loss for others to notice a pattern of mis-hearing well before you do!
- Benefits of aids for people with early hearing loss include: i) less guess-work and listening effort, ii) more confidence to join in conversation, iii) more confidence in career and job seeking
“I don’t want my ears to become dependent on hearing aids, as eyes do with glasses…”
- That’s a myth – hearing aids wont “change” your ears! They can however reactivate parts of the brain under-stimulated by sound (a good thing)
- We do often hear people say they are “dependent” on their aids, simply because of all the ways they help on a daily basis
“It’s too much money…”
- You don’t have to commit yourself unless you gain personal benefit; a trial is the best way of finding this out…
- Communication, transport, housing and food are life’s “basics”. For example, compare what you invest in a car vs what you invest in communication and relationships?.
- Consider (in appropriate order) – private health rebate, discounts, payment-plan, lower cost model, deprioritise – new car/overseas holiday/ etc