Hearing Loss Resources
Hearing loss is something that many older adults experience. Most insurance plans do not cover the cost of hearing aids and equipment can range in cost from a couple hundred up to several thousand dollars. The price tag may prevent individuals from getting the help they need to hear, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
Katie Prins, Executive Director at Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (DHHS), says advances in technology have increased the options for those who do not have the means to purchase hearing aids.
Prins recommends looking into the following products, if you are unable to afford hearing aids:
- Pocket talkers. These are readily available and often resemble headphones and a portable speaker. The speaker portion takes sounds and feeds it through to the headphones, often allowing individuals to adjust volume as needed.
- Amplifiers for phones and televisions. These can be connected to specific devices and increase the volume just for the item it is attached too. This can be helpful for those who have difficulty hearing the phone or television.
- Modified smoke alarms or doorbells. Safety is a number one concern for those with hearing loss. Many safety devices (like smoke alarms) only use sound. However there are modified versions that use both light and sound to alert individuals of smoke or fire and they can be easily installed.
Hearing aids are still the most common choice for those with hearing concerns. Prins recommends that no matter how much you are spending on these devices, you should always be cautious.
Take the following steps when purchasing hearing aids:
- Talk with your doctor. Have a conversation with your doctor first about your hearing concerns. He can recommend you to an audiologist.
- Ask questions. This is new territory for many people so the terms used and the results after an audiological test may be confusing. Ask question to make sure you understand the information you are given.
- Do your research. Unfortunately (like with many high priced items) there are individuals and companies that have questionable sales tactics or misrepresent the truth when it comes to product features or individual needs. Doing your research (on the company and the product) before you purchase anything can help prevent you from making a costly mistake.
- Find out what the price includes. Some companies may offer warranties or fittings in with the cost of the hearing aid while others don’t. Being armed with this information can help you make a decision that’s best for you.
- Schedule an appointment with DHHS staff. DHHS staff can meet with individuals one-on-one to help determine hearing changes and identify equipment that best fits an individual’s needs.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (DHHS) works with individuals of all ages to help with hearing concerns. They offer support groups and one-on-one assistance as well as classes and events for those with a hearing loss.
“No matter the age, someone dealing with hearing loss often struggles with feelings of isolation or depression while adjusting to these changes. This can be a very difficult time and often just admitting a hearing loss can be a struggle. It is essential that friends and family members are sensitive to this and provide a supportive environment.”
The Kent County Senior Millage provides funding to DHHS for programs such as rehabilitation for activities of daily living (related to hearing loss), group education on adjusting to a hearing loss and lip reading classes. Assistance is also available to help individuals find devices, equipment and other resources to adjust to hearing loss. The services are open to Kent County residents age 60 and over. Depending on income, individuals may be asked to pay part of the cost.
For more information on services for those with hearing loss, contact Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services at (616) 732-7358 or www.deafhhs.org.
For more information on other services for older adults and caregivers, contact the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan at (616) 456-5664, check out the rest of our website or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AreaAgencyOnAging