Last week my mother called excited to tell me that her recent April issue of AARP magazine had a featured article about hearing loss and hearing aids. She wanted to be sure that I saw it. If not, she would mail it to me. Since May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, I encourage you to read that article if you have not already.
We always get excited when there is talk about hearing issues. According to AARP, 25 percent of Americans ages 55 to 64 and 33 percent of those 60 to 74 are faced with hearing challenges. That percentage increases for those over 75. We need to talk hearing difficulties, as it affects so many of us. AARP did a nice job with the information they presented.
Did you know, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America, only 20% of individuals with hearing difficulty use hearing technology? AARP speculates the investment in hearing technology is an obstacle for many. The FDA has passed a bill that, in the near future, that will allow hearing aids to be purchased over-the-counter. I question if that is truly the solution to why so many do not taking advantage of the benefits hearing technology can provide.
Did you know that the over-the-counter bill, as currently written, does not require a medical evaluation prior to the purchase of hearing aids? As a medical provider, I am concerned that an underlying medical cause for a hearing problem will go undetected if someone goes straight to their pharmacy to purchase a hearing aid. We need a diagnostic hearing evaluation first. If hearing loss can be corrected with medication or surgery, a referral to an Ear, Nose and Throat physician would be made. This is worrisome.
Did you know that in the United Kingdom hearing aids are provided at no charge through the National Health Service, when referred by their medical doctor to an audiologist or ear, nose and throat physician? However, if hearing aids are “Free”, you would expect the number of people using them to be significantly higher than here in America. However, that is not the case. So again, is over-the counter the answer? I don’t think so.
James came in the office last week for his first six-month clean and check appointment, after being fit with hearing technology last October. He proudly sat down and shared with me how much his new hearing aids have changed his life; enabling him to better communicate with his wife and family. He stated his hearing aids are worth every penny spent and the best investment he has ever made.
James had also read the AARP article and does not think someone will be successful with hearing aids without the professional assistance of an audiologist to guide them through the process. I am thrilled he values the service we provide and understands his success is not only the result of hearing technology.
Did you know our clinic works with the Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, a state funded problem that provides hearing aids? A patient may qualify for that program based on their financial situation and severity of their hearing loss. Many choose not to pursue that program, while others do not wear the hearing aid they received (at no cost). Why? After 30 years of providing audiology services, I still cannot answer that question.
So my take-home message is this. Before you purchase hearing aids on-line, through a magazine or at the pharmacy, give us a call. Complete a diagnostic medical evaluation first to be sure hearing aids are what you need. We have included in our product line many types of hearing aids and at varying price points to meet your hearing needs as well as the funds you have available to hear better. Give Beth or Jamie a call to schedule an appointment today. We can truly help you find your Hearing Solution. Jane and I look forward to seeing you soon.