Hearing clearly and adequately is a contributor to a high quality of life. Unfortunately, some seniors experience hearing loss and fail to take steps to treat the condition. Those who do, however, may find themselves choosing between a hearing aid and a sound amplifier.
Approximately one quarter of seniors aged 65 to 74 in the United States suffer from significant hearing loss. In aging people 75 and over, that number doubles to 50 percent. Only a small number of seniors affected by hearing loss turn to hearing aids to remedy their situation.
Why is hearing essential?
Hearing sounds is critical, especially as people age. Without the ability to hear spoken words, seniors are cut off from the world around them. Unable to participate in everyday conversations, people with a hearing deficit can begin to experience a range of emotional setbacks.
Aging people with hearing loss may become depressed or withdraw from social life. As a result, loneliness, feelings of isolation and even anger can emerge. Cognitive decline and poor health are the long-term consequences of the devastating effects of hearing loss.
Out of frustration, the senior with a hearing deficit may lash out at family members for speaking softly or blame them for mumbling. The volume of the TV can spark arguments. These seniors may also refuse to attend social gatherings out of embarrassment about their loss of hearing.
Personal safety is jeopardized when seniors lack the ability to hear clearly. Sirens and alarms go unheard. Confusion during emergencies can scare a senior who is unable to hear. Plus, it is stressful and potentially harmful when they cannot hear a doctor’s important instructions about healthcare.
Hearing has a major impact on nearly every facet of daily life. Only when a senior admits that she is experiencing hearing loss is she able to seek medical help. Devices, such as hearing aids, cause sounds to become louder. Others may turn to sound amplifiers.
What are hearing aids and sound amplifiers?
A hearing aid is a battery-operated electronic device that may be recommended by a medical doctor or specialist. The hearing aid is an FDA-approved medical device. An audiologist fits the customized hearing aid to suit the individual’s personal level of hearing loss.
A sound amplifier also causes sounds to become louder. However, these devices are designed to amplify sounds for people with normal hearing and are intended primarily for recreational use. Hunters or lecture and performance attendees may use them to increase the loudness of sounds.
What is the cost of either device?
As a life-changing medical device, hearing aids are crucial to improving quality of life. However, hearing aids appear to be reserved for the well-off. The cost for hearing aids ranges from $1000 to $4000 each, and in general, private insurance does not generally cover the cost of these medical devices.
Sound amplifiers are far more cost-efficient. Prices range from an affordable $15 to $500. The drawback to these inexpensive devices is that they are a one-size-fits-all type of product, much like reading glasses purchased at the drugstore. Sound amplifiers are not customizable or programmable.
Why are hearing aids a better choice?
Seniors who opt for hearing aids will be fitted with a customized device shaped to suit their unique degree of hearing loss and frequencies. Ears are extremely sensitive to sound, whether soft or loud. Hearing aids are programmed and offer better satisfaction to wearers.
Customization of hearing aid technology is important. The senior undergoes a hearing test by an audiologist and the results are mapped out on an audiogram. The hearing aid is calibrated so that only the sounds the wearer no longer hears are amplified—these are reasons for the high cost.
Hearing aids are sophisticated devices featuring computer chips with extremely fast processing capabilities. These devices analyze the wearer’s environment and automatically make adjustments to amplify the correct sounds. As a result of wearing hearing aids, speech is heard much more clearly.
Sound amplifiers, while less pricey, amplify all sounds, even those a senior does not want to hear. Causing all sounds to become louder is detrimental. Loud and noisy sounds can overwhelm the senior and distract her from the voice she is trying to hear.
Plus, sound amplifiers are not Class 1 medical devices. While the cost-efficiency of sound amplifiers is evident, the value is lacking. Without being professionally fit and customized, sound amplifiers fail to make specific sounds clearer in a range of settings.
The FDA is vocal in their endeavors to encourage hearing aids and help consumers differentiate between their options. The use of sound amplifiers is discouraged by the FDA, since these cheaper alternatives are not a substitute for approved hearing aids.
Hearing aids are intended for the hearing impaired, while sound amplifiers are designed for those with normal hearing. When your aging loved one is faced with the decision to choose between either device, consult a trusted healthcare provider for reliable answers.
If your loved one needs transportation to visit a doctor or audiologist for hearing tests or follow ups, turn to Assisting Hands Home Care. We are a reputable home care agency with a team of compassionate caregivers who are experienced in providing a range of non-medical elder care services.
Transportation is just one of many service offerings we provide. Our professional caregivers also assist seniors with personal hygiene, such as grooming, bathing and toileting. We prepare meals, shop for groceries, and provide pleasant companionship. We also give timely medication reminders.
Assisting Hands Home Care does not stop at hands-on care. Our specialists are available to offer guidance and resources for advanced directives, estate planning, Medicare benefits, and reverse mortgages. Seniors can turn to our home care agency for dependable answers to common questions.
Individuals who seek information about hearing aids or various issues that affect the aging population are encouraged to consult Assisting Hands Home Care. Our elderly care services benefit older adults living in DuPage and Cook counties in Illinois. Call us at (630) 413-9899 for a complimentary in-home consult.