The sounds of the season are in the air! But unfortunately, millions of Americans can’t enjoy those sounds because of hearing loss. While there have been great advancements made in hearing aid technology over the years, there is still much work to be done in helping the more than 35 million Americans with hearing loss – and more than 25 million of them who go without help to hear better in their everyday lives.
Taking care of our hearing is something we should be doing all year long, but many Americans simply ignore the warning signs and wait until their hearing has deteriorated before they take corrective action. Hearing is an essential part of our lives, and today’s hearing instrument technology is powerful enough to help millions of people hear better every day.
Unfortunately, nearly half of all people who visit an audiologist for a hearing test do not return to be fitted for hearing aids. There are a number of reasons why people are uncomfortable buying a hearing instrument – they may be worried about their appearance, concerned about the cost or uneasy about whether hearing aids will work in different everyday situations, such as in busy, crowded spaces or noisy places.
Are hearing aids right for you or your loved one? To determine whether you or your loved one may have a hearing loss, ask these questions:
• Do you or your loved one frequently ask others to repeat themselves, particularly when two or more people are involved in the conversation?
• Do you or your loved one feel that other people are mumbling?
• Do you or your loved one have great difficulty communicating in noisy places, such as restaurants?
• Are you or your loved one unable to clearly hear the voices of young children or women?
• Do family members complain that you or your loved one turn up the TV or radio too loud?
If you or your loved one answered “yes” to any of these questions, then it may be time to consider a hearing aid. Here are five simple steps to take toward better hearing:
• Visit an audiologist, licensed hearing aid dispenser or another accredited hearing healthcare provider. Look for providers accredited by the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) or with American Board of Audiology (ABA) certification. Working with an accredited provider ensures you are getting the best care possible, from a trained professional who puts your hearing health first.
• Bring a friend or family member to your hearing test. Family members and friends can give a hearing healthcare provider important information about your hearing loss that you may not know or be comfortable sharing. They can also help guide you through the purchase process and ask important questions that you may not think to ask.
• Talk to your hearing healthcare professional about what kind of hearing help you need the most. This will help your provider recommend just the right hearing aid solution for you and address your most pressing needs, such as listening to dinner-table conversations or being able to hear better outdoors.
• Research your hearing aid options online before going to the clinic. When it comes to choosing a hearing instrument, there are literally hundreds of options to consider. While your provider will make recommendations based on your type of hearing loss, it’s helpful if you understand which options are available. Do you want or need high amplification? Is concealing the instrument important to you? These and other factors will impact your choice of a hearing aid.
• Ask for a no-obligation take-home trial period. Almost all hearing aids are available for a take-home trial period, but make sure and ask your provider about the terms and conditions. Some manufacturers will only provide stripped-down demonstration units that don’t have all the features and functions you might expect, while others will make you pay for the instrument in advance, then seek a refund if you decide not to purchase it. Unitron offers a “Flex” program where patients can take a fully functional demonstration unit – personalized and programmed to fit their own hearing loss needs – and try it risk- and obligation-free, with no out-of-pocket costs. Ask your provider if they participate in a similar program, or visit www.unitron.com/flex to find a hearing healthcare provider near you offering a free hearing aid trial program.