Virtually anyone with a permanent hearing deficit will benefit from the use of hearing aids. If you find yourself unable to hear sounds within the normal range needed to make out and understand speech in normal conversational situations, an evaluation of the benefits of hearing aids should become a top priority. Around 1 in 3 seniors between the ages of 65 and 74 suffers from hearing loss — a medical condition that, if left untreated, can lead to depression and social isolation. Yet only 20% of people who could benefit from hearing aids use them. A major reason? Sticker shock. A single hearing aid, on average, fetches $2,400. That’s close to $5,000 a pair. In most cases, Medicare won’t cover the cost. There’s a lot of questions and curiosity about hearing aids. Hopefully these questions and answers will help alleviate some of the unknowns.
1: Are there government programs to lower the cost of hearing aids?
A: If you have served in the military, you may be eligible for free hearing aids through the Veterans Administration (VA). Your nearest VA can help. Also, some Medicare Advantage plans offer extra benefits — including hearing aids. Many Americans are unaware of the numerous tax breaks Uncle Sam has for them after they turn 55. If you’ve overlooked these federal tax loopholes in the past, now is the time to appreciate one more benefit of growing older. Frequently overlooked is the medical deduction for hearing aids.
2: Can hearing aids help with tinnitus?
A: The very act of listening to something other than your tinnitus actually exercises the auditory part of your brain. Experts say this, in turn, may block your brain’s ability to hear the ringing and effectively block out tinnitus. Eventually, your brain relegates it to background noise and tunes it out. Hearing aids help you hear the creaks, whirs, and other background sounds of everyday life that you’ve been missing. These background sounds effectively block out the tinnitus.
3: Will hearing aids affect a cell phone conversations?
A: A Bluetooth device can turn a pair of hearing aids into a wireless headset with no audio interference. The technology also allows people who wear hearing aids to hear the television, conduct video chats with ease, and tune into GPS apps with driving instructions. Your hearing aids may be compatible with your iPhone or Android phone’s hearing accessibility features. The settings you choose and how they work depend on your hearing aids and the exact model of your phone.
4: Are there useful hearing aids under $100?
A: They say you get what you pay for and scrimping on a cheap hearing aid can actually hasten hearing loss. You may see these devices sold for hunting, or hearing bird songs, whispered speech, and distant sound. But one thing they’re not is a hearing aid. Experts have discovered that, not only did these cheap devices work poorly, particularly in settings with background noise like restaurants, they may harm what is left of your hearing.
5: Are there ways to quickly adjust to wearing a hearing aid?
A: The awkward process of breaking-in a hearing aid is described by some professionals as “re-learning” how to hear. This is because you are forced to use skills you probably haven’t used in years. Start with these tips: Be patient, know your surroundings and learn how to use your hearing aids. At first, you may have a feeling of fullness in your ears or think your voice sounds hollow. Some people feel like they have a head cold. Those reactions are completely normal.
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