A common category of hearing loss is Age Related Hearing Loss (ARHL) that worsens over time. While men tend to have greater hearing loss than women of similar age (Ritgers et al 2018), women and men with similar self-perception of hearing difficulty tend to accept hearing aids as treatment at a similar rate (Fisher et al 1018). A recent in-depth investigation found that “The average delay in adopting hearing aids following hearing-aid candidacy was 8.9 years.” (Simpson et al, 2019) This and other studies break out individual characteristics such as socio-economic status, sex and age that influence hearing aid adoption. However, hearing professionals say that there are several down to earth basic reasons for avoiding adoption of hearing aids:
In consumer educational materials commonly quoted price ranges for a pair of hearing aids are similar to “$1000, to $5,000 or more.” The lump sum quotation may elicit pearl-clutching gasps from some, but the reality is that even the higher cost products when amortized over a typical five-year life span of hearing aids is roughly the same as the daily cost of a latte at a local drive-through barista. Cost is certainly a factor in the decision to acquire hearing aids for some, but thoughtful selection and flexible pricing options can typically result in a reasonable choice for consumers. Some of the cost has to do with the sophistication of the hearing aids. Most modern hearing aids are produced with different capabilities with respect to noise reduction, wireless connectivity and other features. Highly featured hearing aids are typically at the top of a pricing schedule, and hearing aids with fewer features are offered at lower cost. Careful selection of the appropriate features matched with prospective hearing aid users’ needs and resources can usually resolve the cost issue as the value of better hearing becomes apparent.
The stigma of hearing loss, and association of treatment with hearing aids is an important underlying factor in the denial of hearing loss and rejection of treatment: “Perceived stigma emerged as influencing decision-making processes at multiple points along the experiential continuum of hearing loss, such as initial acceptance of hearing loss, whether to be tested, type of hearing aid selected, and when and where hearing aids were worn” (Wallingham, MI 2010). Although perceptions may be changing as more people are seen with wireless audio headphones that may be mistaken for hearing aids, the reality is that cosmetics are still important to a segment of the population seeking help with treatment for hearing difficulty that includes hearing aids. Small custom hearing aid devices, especially the Invisible-In-Canal (IIC) hearing aid pioneered by Starkey in 2010 are an important offering to meet the preferences of the segment of the hearing aid market with cosmetic concerns. The Starkey Evolv 2.4 CIC is the smallest custom device on the market with 2.4 GHz connectivity.
The industrial design of hearing aids that rest behind the ear such as Receiver In Canal and Behind The Ear standard products has evolved to offer not only a sleek modern appearance, but to provide comfort as the devices settle behind the external ear and next to the head. Occasionally however, potential areas of discomfort may be at points of contact of the hearing aid against ear cartilage, and the tips or earmolds providing the plumbing or components for sound transmission from the device into the ear canal. In these cases, users may prefer custom hearing devices that are molded to the exact configuration of the ear to avoid pressure points and to allow a secure retention in the ear while providing an adequate acoustic seal. The custom fit often requires not only a careful and accurate impression of the ear, but further modifications by the hearing professional to accommodate for dynamic motion/distortion of the ear during jaw and facial movements.
Daily routines such as teeth brushing, remembering vitamins and medication, and properly dressing for the day can consume time and become tiresome for some. Wearing hearing aids adds one more thing to our routine. Rechargeable Starkey Evolv hearing aids are the pinnacle of convenience. Starkey rechargeable hearing aids are easy to lift off the charger and pop into the ear without dexterity-challenging appendages to unplug. All Starkey hearing aids have the option of replaceable wax and debris filters for the microphone and sound port openings to prevent inconvenient interruption of service due to plugging of the openings.
Hearing aids can be affordable, comfortable, cosmetically appealing, effective and convenient. They are the primary treatment of choice for ARHL. Hearing loss can have a profoundly negative impact on life, relationships, and cognitive health. Being unable to hear your significant other whisper your name or enjoy your favorite song can be devastating. Untreated hearing loss is associated with depression, social isolation, dementia, and decreased physical activity.
The first step in improving your hearing, and avoiding problems associated with hearing loss, is to make an appointment with a licensed hearing professional. These healthcare professionals perform hearing tests that measure the loudness and clarity of sound, which means they determine how loud a sound needs to be before you can hear it and how clear the sound is to your ears.
If you have hearing issues, schedule an appointment with us today.
Fisher DE, Li CM, Hoffman HJ, et al. Sex-specific predictors of hearing-aid use in older persons: The age, gene/environment susceptibility – Reykjavik study. Int J Audiol. 2015;54(9):634-641. doi:10.3109/14992027.2015.1024889
Hofman A, Brusselle GG, Darwish Murad S, van Duijn CM, Franco OH, Goedegebure A, et al. The Rotterdam Study: 2016 objectives and design update. Eur J Epidemiol. 2015 Aug;30(8):661–708.
Rigters S, C, van der Schroeff M, P, Papageorgiou G, Baatenburg de Jong R, J, Goedegebure A: Progression of Hearing Loss in the Aging Population: Repeated Auditory Measurements in the Rotterdam Study. Audiol Neurotol 2018;23:290-297. doi: 10.1159/000492203
Simpson AN, Matthews LJ, Cassarly C, Dubno JR. Time From Hearing Aid Candidacy to Hearing Aid Adoption: A Longitudinal Cohort Study. Ear Hear. 2019;40(3):468-476. doi:10.1097/AUD.0000000000000641
Wallhagen MI. The stigma of hearing loss. Gerontologist. 2010;50(1):66-75