5 Reasons to Give Hearing Aids Another Try
Hearing aids are very personal and can often seem complicated. Since every individual’s hearing loss and subsequent needs are unique, getting hearing aids “just right” the first time can be a challenge. Veterans can become frustrated with the process and may give up a little too soon. We’ve all heard the following reasons why people don’t want hearing aids or decide to stop wearing them:
- They amplify noises that are not pleasant to hear.
- It’s difficult to adjust the settings.
- They’re too expensive.
- They’re just uncomfortable.
- They make a person feel older or less capable.
- They don’t get rid of a person’s tinnitus.
While these are legitimate complaints, they are quickly becoming issues of the past, thanks to advancements in technology. In the last decade, hearing aid manufacturers have developed new materials and innovations to address these common concerns. It’s now possible to see significant improvements in hearing aids every couple of years. If you have hearing loss but haven’t used hearing aids in a while, here a few good reasons to give them another try.
1. Improved Sound Quality
For years, some hearing aids were known to make whistling noises from sounds being re-amplified as they exit the ear. People have also experienced unwanted sounds when their hearing aid(s) were not able to pinpoint the individual sound to be amplified or canceled. (Imagine trying to hold a conversation in a noisy restaurant and instead of hearing the people at your table, you hear annoying sounds coming from the kitchen.) More and more, hearing aids are equipped with new features that improve sound quality, such as feedback cancellers. They may also offer:
- Better fit to reduce feedback.
- Programmable options that amplify desired sounds and minimize noise.
- Sound-masking technology that can cancel out persistent noises caused by tinnitus.
2. Advanced Technology
Older hearing aids require frequent adjustments to function in different environments, but advancements in technology have made hearing aids perform better without the fuss. When considering new hearing aids, here are a couple of things to look for:
- Hearing aids that automatically adjust to sound conditions.
- Programmable hearing aids. Audiologists are now trained to program digital hearing aids to match a patient’s hearing profile. Ask your audiologist to program your hearing aids. If your hearing aids aren’t functioning the way you like, schedule an appointment to have them adjusted. You may have to return a few times to get them “just right” but if you are patient, it will be worth it!
3. Affordable Options
Although hearing aids are still a bit pricey and typically not covered by insurance, there may be ways for you to afford them right now at a lower cost (or even at no cost):
- Depending on your eligibility within the VA, you may be able to receive new hearing aids through your VA Audiologist every 4-5 years.
- Revisit your VA Benefits to see if hearing aids are covered. If you were rejected for hearing-loss benefits from the VA in the past, talk to a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) about reapplying. With expert advice and support from a VSO, you may be able to qualify now. If you don’t already have a VSO, you can learn how to find one here.
- As the market expands and competition increases, costs tend to decrease.
4. Greater Comfort and Capabilities
Hearing aids can be uncomfortable—especially while using the phone—but new technology is changing that fast. Look for:
- New hearing aid models that are smaller and more comfortable than ever. There are even tiny hearing aids that fit completely inside your ear! Of course, your audiologist will recommend the style and size that best fits your specific needs.
- New hearing aids with Bluetooth™ capabilities. These allow you to connect them with other devices, such as audio loops, personal microphones, telephones, stereos, televisions – and even certain models of captioned telephones (such as the Hamilton® CapTel® 2400i). Find out how to qualify for a Hamilton CapTel 2400i captioned telephone here.
5. Design and Perception Changes
Hearing aids are not considered to be stylish the way eyeglasses are these days, but as designs change and more people wear hearing aids, the way society views them will change, too. Look for:
- Newer hearing aid styles that are smaller and nearly invisible.
- More choices. As more people wear hearing aids, new styles will become available.
- More people wearing hearing aids, reducing the stigma once associated with them.
Still not sure if you’re ready to give hearing aids another try? Here’s one more consideration. When you receive your new hearing aids, you can donate your old ones to an organization that will clean, repair and distribute them to someone who needs hearing aids but doesn’t have the means to afford them. Contact your local Lion’s Club or a Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) state or local chapter to find a hearing aid donation center in your area. They may also let you know about other programs that accept hearing aids near you.
Share your story! Tell us about your experiences with hearing aids in the comments below.