Hearing loss is one of society's most common ailments. It can occur from a combination of factors: hereditary, aging, disease and exposure to high levels of noise over the course of a lifetime. Hearing loss may range from the mild, such as a ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus, to severe cases of near or complete deafness. This can make it difficult for someone with a hearing disability to understand others, distinguish sounds in their everyday environment or follow a conversation. Typically those who fail to address their hearing-loss issues can end up frustrated with daily life or even depressed.
Seniors represent one of the largest populations to incur hearing impairment, with 40 to 50 percent of those over the age of 65 experiencing hearing loss, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Diseases (NIDCD). They're put in the position to try and cease further hearing damage while finding ways to cope with the hearing loss that may have already occurred. This largely involves taking steps to have a hearing exam and purchasing a quality hearing aid.
"Many people just don't have the information and have no idea where to begin," said Doug Hudson, founder of HearingPlanet.com. "With so many hearing aid options available, consumers can be overwhelmed and not fully understand what they can do to help their hearing."
Here is how to find a hearing aid that is right.
Overcome the stigma of hearing aids. Many people fail to act because they are embarrassed to wear hearing aids. In fact, only one out of five people who could benefit from a hearing aid actually wears one. Hearing aids do not indicate a weakness or a handicap, and today's models are so small that it's likely many people won't even realize one is wearing one.
Having hearing tested. Testing is usually covered by insurance plans. Speak with a general practitioner to learn where testing takes place in the local area. Be sure to request a written copy of the test results, which is known as an audiogram.
Know the options. Inquire about the different options and brands of hearing aids available. Hearing-care professionals should be able to answer all the questions. Also, see if a portion or all of the cost of a hearing aid is covered by a medical insurance plan. Write down the different brands, models and prices discussed. This will be a comparison between products. Don't make any rash decisions; hearing health is important and purchases should be made wisely.
Compare pricing and plans. Look for plans that involve battery replacement, warranties and service to the hearing aid. Call around for prices from reputable companies and seek out recommendations from friends and family members. Also, use Internet resources to make sure that prices are in line. Beware of mail-order hearing aids however. Most of these do not provide local service, which is necessary for proper fit and programing.