When you go to dinner in a busy restaurant, do you have problems hearing your conversation partner? Are you turning the volume up on your television or radio louder and louder? Do you struggle to hear on the phone?
These all are common symptoms of hearing loss. It’s a widely recognized fact that individuals with hearing loss often don’t or won’t do anything about it until the problem becomes so noticeable, it can no longer be ignored. National statistics often quoted say the average person waits nearly seven years from the time when they first notice hearing loss until they seek help—some statistics even say it’s as long as 10 years!
That could be as much as a decade of missing out on conversations with friends and family, the joy of hearing the birds sing, the lyrics of your favorite song, or the comforting words of a religious service.
According to an online survey conducted by hear-it.org, three in four people surveyed said they had undergone a hearing evaluation by a hearing healthcare professional. But the majority did not take the final step toward treatment with hearing aids. Often-cited reasons for not acting on hearing test results include:
- “I’m not old enough to wear hearing aids!”—Many people believe that wearing hearing aids will make them look older than they really are. Fortunately, today’s hearing aids are so small and discreet, they’re barely noticeable, and come in a variety of colors and styles. Plus, asking “What?” constantly also can make you seem older, disengaged or confused.
- Budget—Hearing aids can be an added expense, but many cost-effective options are available, along with financing and payment plans that help make hearing aids more affordable. Plus, some health plans help cover the cost of hearing aids, flexible spending or health savings plan dollars can be used to pay for hearing aids if the health plan does not; and hearing aids qualify as a medical expense deduction on your income taxes.
- How do I know hearing aids will help me?—Many individuals have friends or family who have tried hearing aids, but were not properly fit with the right technology for their hearing loss. When this is the case, hearing aids often end up in the nightstand drawer. Be sure to ask if your audiologist uses real-ear measurement to verify that your hearing aids are working correctly and are programmed just for you. Plus, ask about a 45-day assessment period to be sure the hearing aids are helping you.
Treatment improves quality of life
All relevant studies have found that when hearing aids are properly prescribed and fit, they can significantly improve the quality of life of the hearing-impaired person’s life. Not only do hearing aids help improve personal relationships, research has found that those who wear hearing aids experience better psychological well-being, earn higher incomes, and may reduce the risk for other health problems related to hearing loss, such as dizziness or balance problems, falls, heart disease and diabetes.
But treating hearing loss early, when it’s first diagnosed, and you’re more likely younger, also has significant advantages that can help you be more successful as a new hearing aid wearer. These include:
- Better understanding of how the technology works.
- Improved dexterity, often necessary to perform critical functions related to wearing hearing aids, such as changing batteries or wax filters.
- Potential for improvement in cognitive abilities long term.
- Improved relationships with friends and family.
- Reduced risk of depression and social isolation.