Merriam Webster defines “myth” as “a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something.” Below are myths associated with hearing aides. To which of these myths do you subscribe?
Let’s face it. We’re all vain, and if having ears attached to the side of our head weren’t bad enough, having an appendage to those ears adds insult to injury. It isn’t helpful that the image of a hearing aid many of us have stuck in our head is a device the size of baby eel hanging off our grandfather’s flabby ear.
If you still associate hearing aids with the ‘big beige clunkers’ grandpa wore, you are woefully behind the times. New Technology–including wireless hearing aids using bluetooth technology–allows for extremely small and discreet hearing aids. Traditional behind the ear hearing aids are still popular but much less conspicuous than they once were. Depending on your needs, your audiologist will recommend the best hearing aid for you.
Typically, the older we get the more ensconced in our routines we become making a change in routine a fairly big deal. As innocent as adding an extra step to the evening and morning routine may sound, it can be unsettling to one’s life and a cause for resistance not only to getting hearing aids but to actually wearing them once they’re purchased.
Hearing aids do require daily care and occasional battery checks, but rest assured the interruption to your routine will be minimal. Your audiologist will show you how to care
for and check your hearing aids regularly. Be sure to ask your audiologist about a listening tube, a battery tester, a forced air blower, and a drying container.
It is not a myth that hearing aids are expensive–especially if you’re on a fixed income. Unfortunately, Medicare does not at this time cover hearing aids. However, because hearing aids are expensive does not mean you can’t afford them. It may take some maneuvering and planning ahead but there are pathways to affordability.
For seniors, Medicare does pay for diagnostic hearing evaluations, but not the hearing aids themselves. However, numerous Medicare supplemental policies offer hearing aid riders and discounts. A good first step is to call the customer service number on the back of your insurance card and ask the CSR what your benefits include.
For adults not yet covered by Medicare and who work, ask your employer’s benefits manager to find out what your benefits cover. If audiology services are not included in your employer’s plan, you may want to advocate for inclusion of audiology services. If your current insurance does not offer audiology services, consider changing insurance plans during open enrollment.
Another way to mitigate the cost of hearing aids is to contribute to a Health Services Plan (HSA). In this way, you can use pre-tax dollars to pay for the hearing aids. Nonprofit organizations may provide financial assistance for hearing aids, or help provide used or refurbished aids. Contact the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) Information Clearinghouse with questions about organizations that offer financial assistance for hearing aids. Finally, you may be eligible for disability benefits.
For eligible children and young adults ages 21 and under, Medicaid will pay for the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss, including hearing aids, under the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) service.
The truth is, people already treat you differently because of your hearing loss. Friends and family who have noticed your hearing loss may get frustrated and irritable toward you because they need to constantly repeat themselves. It is likely that hearing aids will improve, not worsen, how family and friends treat you.
Whether a cumbersome label–”hearing impaired,” “hard of hearing,” or “hearing disabled,” etc.–is applied to your circumstances, the fact is that you are differently abled from the general population. Truth be told, we all are in one way or another. Every individual is unique, but there is one thing we all have in common: We all want to be treated with respect. To the best of our own unique abilities, people with hearing loss have families, friends, communities, and lives that are just as fulfilling as anyone else. The point is that you are not defined by your hearing loss, something to keep in mind–and (gently) remind others of if need be–when thinking about your hearing.