Why do people put off wearing hearing aids?

Why do people put off wearing hearing aids?

This is a question we, as audiologists, ask ourselves almost daily.  We see people all day long with hearing loss, many of them untreated, and when the subject of amplification comes up we are often met with some form of a resounding NO. Either they feel that it’s not bad enough, or they get along just fine (meanwhile, there’s usually a spouse sitting next to them making funny faces), or they feel they really don’t have a hearing loss.  Other times the person thinks hearing aids are a bad thing - “I’m not old enough”, or they feel they’re too expensive.

On average, people wait 7 years from the time they’ve been identified with a hearing loss until they do something about it.  (Now, my own father waited 19 years, and that’s only because mom told him he had to move out if he didn’t get them...) So, today I thought we’d talk about a few of the reasons you or a loved one may decide against hearing aids, and I’ll provide a counter argument against them.  (No change of address required!)

Reason #1 - Hearing loss is normal for my age.

Response - This is one we hear very often. Yes,  hearing loss does occur with aging, but not everyone has hearing loss due to that.  We see children as well - I just fit a 10 year old. I look at it like this - high blood pressure or diabetes can occur with aging, but they are also due to many other factors, and you wouldn’t want to ignore these health issues.  Nor would we like for you to ignore your hearing, especially when it plays such a vital and important role in your everyday communication as well as enjoyment of activities, family and life.

Reason #2 - Hearing aids are too expensive.

Response - Yes, they can be.  An average pair of aids can cost $5000.  However some insurance plans will help with the cost, and we can also find ways to help if they don’t.  I expect to keep you in a pair of aids for 5-7 years before you need to change them. So, one way to look at it is :  if you keep one pair of aids for 5 years, it would cost you $2.74 per day to hear better, communicate better, understand conversation and jokes, and improve your overall quality of life.  As we like to say, that’s now less than a cup of coffee anymore!

Reason #3 - My friend got hearing aids, and they don’t help him at all.

Response - This is another one we hear all the time, unfortunately.  Hearing aids are designed to be very specific for your hearing loss and your needs.  Adjustments are needed to make sure they work the way YOU want them to in the situations you need them to.  Honestly, sometimes we don’t get it right the first time and after you’ve worn them for a couple of weeks we have to make some changes.  That’s why I like to give my people homework - I have you practice hearing in different areas so we can discuss what sounds good and what needs work.  I’ve found this to be very helpful and effective for people learning to hear again, and it makes them “invested” in their hearing.

Reason #4 - Hearing aids are ugly, and I’ll look old.

Response - Hearing aids are now much, much smaller and less conspicuous than ever before.  Really, your hearing loss is probably more noticeable than a hearing aid would be. And again, I just fit a 10 year old, and she certainly doesn’t look old!   The range of styles go from deep inside your ear canal to small, thin behind the ear styles, to the larger behind the ear style. It does depend on your hearing loss however, and we’ll certainly let you know if something will or won’t work for you.  

Ok, now that I’ve argued against the most common reasons that people decide to wait, it’s up to you or your family member to decide when they’re ready.  I always tell my people that if I couldn’t get my own dad to do it, I’m certainly not going to twist anyone’s arm! However, once he got his hearing aids, he was very surprised at what he’d been missing and did enjoy wearing them.  We will do whatever we can or need to help you or your family member make a decision and be happy and comfortable with it. If you are ready, please call us and we’ll do our best to make you happy you did!

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