Confronting Hearing Aid Costs And Social Stigma
There are options aplenty when it comes to hearing aids – from financial assistance programs to innovative device types. Let's explore!
Doctor installing hearing aid into a senior black man's ear

With millions of older adults facing hearing loss, it helps to understand all available options. For many, the common questions fall into three buckets: financial, personal experiences and aid options.

Let’s start with finances.

Why Are Hearing Aids So Expensive?

Hearing aids require intensive testing and follow-up appointments. You may not need an expensive hearing aid to find one that works for you.

The most important thing is to manage the type of hearing loss you’re experiencing; and find help to hear more clearly.

Where to Find Financial Assistance

Experts advise that Medicare does not cover hearing aids and hearing evaluations. Most health insurance plans also do not cover aids.

In some states, people with low income might qualify for hearing aids through Medicaid. People with higher income may qualify for assistance, through county social services. Contact your local government’s social services to inquire about options and request an appointment.

However, don’t give up. If you have coverage, such as Medi-Cal and the VA, some plans may include them. Furthermore, local groups such as Kiwanis, Rotary Clubs and Lions Clubs may be able to help with resources.

Hearingloss.org offers information to help find financial resources for hearing loss.

You’ve Heard The Horror Stories…

Senior man with blue shirt having ear examination with young female audiologist

You’ve probably had friends share their personal experiences. Maybe you’ve heard some horror stories of frustration. Fits-and-starts with mastering hearing aids. But let’s jump in anyway. The truth is better than denial or misinformation.

First, a hearing aid is not going to return your ears to your youth. Second, the hearing aid will not repair the cells that have become less sensitive to sound. With that said, they can still offer tremendous value.

Almost immediately hearing aids can usually help you hear better and with less effort. This alone allows for the return of common enjoyments like listening to birds or taking in a concert or movie.

They can also help you hear better in specific environments where without an aid that wouldn’t be possible. You can stay more engaged with conversations and experience deeper connections with people.

What Works Best?

While different people have different preferences for brand, shape and features, there are a couple of things that will help ease the journey. As you’re investigating hearing aids and trying out a brand, keep this in mind.

  1. Hearing aids are not like glasses. It takes time to get used to them.
  2. You may need several trips to refine the aid to your needs.
  3. Keep the end in mind. This is a positive move for healthy aging.
What About Your Attitude?

Happy senior couple playing Yahtzee

Many people initially feel that getting a hearing aid is a sign of weakness. In talking with neighbors, whether out for a walk or at the grocery store, I hear this a lot.

A 93-year old, a former Navy captain told me, “I don’t want to give in. I can hear O.K., but my wife keeps nagging me to get checked.”

His wife, active at 91, also confided in me: “I have to repeat myself 3 or 7 times. It’s a drag. I love him. But, he’s so proud that he won’t even get checked. I wish I could turn back the clock.”

Sound remotely familiar?

We may not want to believe it. We may not be able to turn back the clock. But we can take action and explore alternatives.

Aren’t There Other Options?

Fortunately, in addition to a hearing aid, there are choices. Because hearing aids take some fiddling and fine-tuning, people may get fed-up. It’s not like instant coffee. It takes some time to get used to having a device in your ears.

Some people dislike hearing aids, and claim it is an intrusion in their body awareness. If this is your experience, consider some other options so you can move forward with better hearing.

Personal amplifying devices. Carry in your pocket, purse or briefcase and use as needed. They are known to help users to hear better in small group settings and one-on one conversations.

Assistive devices for phones. These may be offered free for people with hearing loss. Check with your local phone provider.

Assistive devices for TVs. You can adjust the volume while those watching with you can listen at a lower volume.

Assistance Club Summary

When it comes to managing hearing loss, the one thing to remember is: You have options!

Check out your options for:

  1. Financial assistance for hearing evaluations and aids.
  2. Personal attitudes, such as focusing on positive benefits.
  3. Personal amplifiers such as hand-held pocket amplifiers.

By understanding your options, you’ll have an easier time finding the solutions that are best for you, your ears and those that want to converse with you.