New Technologically Advanced Products Fill in the Gaps When Hearing Aids are Not the Total Solution
by Michele Ahlman
According to the National Council on Aging, over 30 million people in the United States have hearing loss, but this number is rapidly reaching epidemic proportions as the baby boomer generation, who lived in an ever increasingly sound polluted environment, are reaching senior status.
The Council also discovered those with untreated hearing loss are more likely to report:
- Worry and anxiety
- Emotional turmoil
- Social isolation
Those with hearing loss are also less likely to participate and organize social activities, compared with those who wear hearing aids. It proves that hearing loss is definitely not a harmless condition.
Seniors whose hearing loss is treated often report benefits that include:
- Better relationships with their families
- Higher self-esteem
- Greatly improved mental health
- Greater independence and security.
Hearing aids are not the only solution for people living with hearing loss. The particular lifestyle situations for which a hearing aid may not be the best solution for optimal hearing are:
- Getting out of bed on time
- Talking on the telephone
- Listening to TV or the radio
- Hearing every word of the movie, play, or concert
- Dinner with friends, and meetings
Sometimes hearing aids do not completely screen out background noise, or work well with telephones. And many people with hearing loss do not want to wear the powerful, cumbersome outside-of-the-ear aid, while others refuse to believe that they need to wear a hearing aid at all. (Even former President Reagan refused to be photographed putting in his hearing aid.)
Many are uninformed and have unrealistic expectations when purchasing a hearing aid. So they return it, and continue to live with untreated hearing loss, which causes a downward spiral of depression. The less we hear, the harder it gets to communicate. Hence, we begin to withdraw from others. As a result, we become more frustrated and lonely.
Luckily, we are living in the middle of an assistive hearing bonanza! There are now simple-to-use products, for use with or without a hearing aid, including ALDs (assistive listening devices, like binoculars for the ears) that begin to make solving hearing problems as simple and affordable as picking up new pair of glasses. These new products — affordable, innovative, simple and highly effective solutions for people with hearing loss — will allow you to continue to function independently and productively despite your communication challenges.
Finding the right devices is well worth the effort. Of course, there are no devices that will restore your hearing to what you may remember as normal, but by managing your communication needs you can improve your function level dramatically and retain or regain control of your life. You’ll have the right tools to do the job.