Friday, February 7, 2020

Are You Hearing Me?

When people struggle to see, they can wear glasses or contacts. Some people even wear glasses when they have perfect vision, simply because frames and lenses can be fashionable. Unfortunately, too many people who struggle with hearing problems do not wear hearing aids. There is an unfortunate stereotype about hearing aids that they are unsightly or even ineffective. But while they might not have a fashionable quality to them, they do improve the wearer’s quality of life and isn't that more important? Think about how much you could be missing out on if you have a hearing loss! As a speech pathologist I know how important hearing is, whether it is as an adult or a young child still learning to speak. So if you feel you or someone close to you may have a hearing loss, I hope you get it checked out. I even had our youngest daughter take a hearing evaluation when I thought she wasn't using as many words as she should for her age (she passed, but I was happy we went and I had a definitive answer). 


Why could more people wear hearing aids? According to a recent study, people who have been fitted for hearing aids do not wear them for several reasons. In this same study, researchers found that 80% of the people who would benefit from wearing them chose not to wear them. Why? The factors that choose not to wear them include:

1.   Situational factors
Some people find themselves only wearing them in certain situations, but they do not wear them every day. They might wear around their family members at home, but they do not wear them to work or to social situations. This is often due to people worrying that they will be judged by people they know. Only wearing hearing aids in limited situations will not improve hearing. The brain needs consistency to become familiar with the sound produced. If you only wear them occasionally, you will constantly have difficulty getting used to them.


Image by Michael Gaida from Pixabay 

2.   Device factors
Another reason why people do not wear their hearing aids or even get fitted for them is because of the way the device feels. Some people get used to their hearing ability and having a louder noise in their ears can be surprising. People might not know how to set their hearing aids, so they do not benefit from them. They also might not have a quality device, so sounds aren’t filtered. Or they might not know how to change the batteries to keep the device properly functioning. Some people struggle to put them on and taking them off, so they do not wear them at all. There is so much education that goes into having a hearing aid. 

3.   Appearance
People often choose to avoid wearing their hearing aids because they do not like the way they look. If people struggle with self-confidence, they might avoid wearing them. But there has been so much technological progress made with hearing aids. Many hearing aids are so small that they are barely noticeable. People can even do their hair differently to disguise their hearing aids. And why does it matter anyway? I've seen children that get bright colored hearing aids and rock them! They make it almost like an accessory. 


Photo by Zoe Graham on Unsplash

4.   Financial reasons
It’s no secret that hearing aids can be expensive. But, there are different models at a wide range of price points. If paying for hearing aids is prohibiting you from improving your life, then you should talk to your audiologist for a solution to the problem. They will be knowledgeable about programs and different models to best fit your budget. 

Image by kalhh from Pixabay 

5.   Maintenance issues
Taking care of hearing aids is another reason why people do not wear them. They need to have their batteries changed. They also need to be cleaned regularly. If you don’t take care of your hearing aids, they can become dirty and sound quality decreases. Because they are so small, some people have difficulty getting into small areas that need maintenance. Batteries can be ordered in bulk, so you always have a replacement on hand.

I sincerely hope that if you or anyone you know ever needs a hearing aid, you use it and improve your quality of life! Nothing can be worth missing out on important conversations, first words, or fun events! 


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