02 Nov So, where exactly are your hearing aids?
At a conference recently, I attended a presentation on the top reasons why consumers do not wear their hearing aids. Of course as hearing care professionals we all hope this never happens to our clients and that all the hearing aids we fit are being loved and worn daily. But as the owner of Hearing Institute Atlantic, where our staff takes such pride in what we do, it really got me thinking. Perhaps there are indeed clients of ours who are not wearing their aids, who are struggling with them unnecessarily or have simply given up. In all of these circumstances, and perhaps more, it would mean our clients with a diagnosed hearing issue are not effectively treating their hearing loss; therefore our mission, our goal, the very reason why we come to work everyday, would be failing them. Why? And more than why, how do we help?
Untreated Hearing Loss is Growing
Current research shows that only about 20% of those diagnosed today with a hearing loss actually wear a hearing aid. And this percentage is fallen from a sobering high of only 24% in the 1980’s. Let’s put that into perspective. Less people are wearing hearing aids now than 30 years ago, at a time when advances in technology, design and performance of hearing aids has made leaps and bounds. Today’s hearing aids are better than decades ago, they provide more benefit, have more features for comfort and sound and although smaller and quite discreet they are more robust than ever. So why are fewer people wearing them?
There are lots of reasons why people won’t wear hearing aids (www.hearingresearch.org/ross/hearing_aids/why_people_wont_wear_hearing_aids.php) but when they do decide to see an audiologist, go through the fitting process and invest in a hearing aid, many aids still do not end up being worn. Some of the top reasons why folks aren’t wearing their aids are listed below:
- Sounds/voices are too loud
- Too much fuss, nuisance, hassle to manage
- Social stigma, afraid of people noticing
- Didn’t help, I still couldn’t hear in a crowd
- They whistled or squealed
- Fit and comfort
- Little benefit, I hear just fine without them(!)
- They are broken, not working, repairs are too costly
- My life has changed and I’m alone a lot more now, so I don’t wear them
- Other issues: wax build up, headaches, ears sweat, pain in ear, itchiness, voice is occluded
Having hearing aids sitting in a drawer, not being worn or causing stress and frustration to our clients is the very last thing we would wish for. When people are satisfied they tell a few friends, but when they are dissatisfied, they tell everyone! I truly believe that the market’s overall dissatisfaction with hearing aids is one of the main reasons why less people today are wearing them and are choosing not to treat their hearing loss. But it doesn’t have to be like that, and it shouldn’t be, when there are solid, reliable and frankly excellent hearing aids available. Further, research has clearly shown a link between untreated hearing loss and a number of negative health, wellness and economic factors. So if you are already invested in the purchase of hearing aids, then start wearing them!
Help is Available
The role of your hearing care professional is to diagnose your hearing and if a loss is present to prescribe an appropriate device and perform an accurate fitting process. Wearing hearing aids, getting used to them, managing them daily is all hard work; we indeed see this everyday in our clinics and have support, counseling and expertise to assist our clients. If you are not wearing your hearing aids, if you see yourself described in the reasons listed above, please call us, we can help and further more, we want to help. Sit down with your audiologist and have an open, honest discussion about why you are not wearing your hearing aids.
You can have Success!
Reading through the list of reasons above, our audiologists can easily handle many of the issues and are game to tackle some of the tougher ones. Be prepared to have your thoughts challenged, perhaps your effort and patience needs to be greater, perhaps a new device needs to be tried or programming changes need to be done to your existing device, whatever it is, we are here to help. Hearing aids do work, they do provide a measureable benefit and everyone can have success. Go ahead, give us a chance to help and to talk about why you aren’t wearing your aids, the reasons may be so easy to solve. Let’s meet together and get those hearing aids out of the drawer and into your ears, where they so rightly belong.
Owner, Hearing Institute Atlantic