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Increased Follow-Up From Healthcare Providers Could Lead to Greater Hearing Aid Usage

Once someone is told they need hearing aids, they either dive in with both feet or are very hesitant about adapting to these devices. Some people are very excited that the devices can help them hear better. Others have a more difficult time making the shift to using hearing aids, and they may have underlying concerns or questions about using the devices.
So, what is the most common reason that people are hesitant to wear hearing aids and end up leaving their devices unused? According to Professor Harvey Dillon (University of Manchester), “the largest predictor of hearing aid benefit is the quality of interaction with the health professional, rather than the degree of hearing loss.” This means that a person with severe hearing loss may be no more likely to use their hearing aids than a person with mild hearing loss. The greatest indicator is how well the person’s hearing health professional communicates and follows up with them.
Professor Dillon is the lead author of a new paper published in the International Journal of Audiology. This paper reports the results of a survey conducted by researchers from the University of Manchester jointly with audiologists from the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in North Wales. The study evaluated a sample of 10,000 to 16,000 adults per year from 2004 to 2018, using data extracted from national household surveys in Wales, UK.
The survey found that approximately 20 percent of the surveyed adults never use their hearing aids, 30 percent use their devices some of the time, and the remaining 50 percent use their hearing aids most of the time. Although this amounts to nearly 50 percent who do not use their hearing aids most of the time, this study still found good news in that the proportion of people who claimed to not use their hearing aids over a 15 year period decreased from 21 percent to 18 percent.
Professor Dillon and his colleagues, including Professor Kevin Munro (University of Manchester), believe that the most effective way to increase hearing aid usage is to improve the communication and follow-up from the hearing healthcare provider to their patient. Professor Dillon said, “We think there is a need for prompter and more proactive follow-up and monitoring once a hearing aid has been prescribed and fitted.”
This type of follow-up may increase the number of people who use their hearing aids because they will be better educated on how to use them and how to make any needed adjustments for enhanced results. There is also a period of adjustment for new hearing aid users and having a health professional follow up during this time may encourage more patients to continue using their hearing aids throughout that adjustment phase and well beyond.
If you believe that you may benefit from hearing aids, or if you have any questions about how to use your hearing aids, we encourage you to contact our hearing healthcare office today. We are eager to assist you.

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5 Common Fears of Wearing Hearing Aids and How to Overcome Them

Did you know that approximately 15 percent of adults over the age of 18 in the United States report having some trouble hearing? That’s about 37.5 million people! So, if you or a loved one has been told or suspects that you have hearing loss, you are far from alone.
Although hearing loss is quite common and hearing aids are a great treatment option for many people who suffer from hearing loss, you may still have a few reservations about using a hearing aid. If you feel this way, don’t worry. It’s normal to have some questions about something so new to you.
To help you feel more comfortable and confident about wearing hearing aids, here are five of the most common fears about wearing hearing aids and how to navigate them:
1. I’m worried my hearing aids won’t work.
If you knew someone who wore hearing aids years ago, this fear might be at the top of your mind. However, hearing aid technology has progressed significantly in recent years. Today’s hearing aids are more powerful, more effective, and easier to use than ever before.
Many of today’s hearing aids are also designed to work with your other technology, such as your smartphone, TV, or tablet. In addition, new technology enables hearing aids to distinguish between background noise and speech, which will allow you to more clearly hear the conversations you are interested in.
If your hearing aids don’t work perfectly right away, talk to your hearing aid professional. Your devices may require some simple adjustments that will greatly improve your experience.
2. I’m worried my hearing aids will make me look old.
While advanced age is associated with a greater risk for hearing loss, people of all ages use hearing aids. If you are picturing older hearing aids that you saw your grandmother wearing 20 years ago, throw out that mental picture! Nowadays, hearing aids are much smaller and more discreet.
In addition, untreated hearing loss can make you seem older than wearing hearing aids will. Constantly asking people to repeat themselves, turning up the volume on the TV, and responding inappropriately because you did not hear correctly can all make you seem old. Using hearing aids can help you avoid all of these issues.
3. I’m worried I won’t be able to afford hearing aids.
While this is an understandable concern, there are hearing aids available at multiple price points to fit your needs. Additional options may also be available for you, including:

  • Monthly payments. Many hearing health practices offer flexible payment plans so you can pay for your hearing aids in a way that works for your financial situation. They may also offer refurbished devices at a lower cost, or they may have a relationship with a foundation that can help offset the cost of your hearing aids.
  • Hearing benefits from the Veteran’s Administration. If you are a veteran, check with your VA to see if they provide hearing benefits.
  • Vocational rehabilitation. If you are a prospective or current college student, or if you are currently employed, you may qualify for hearing aids through your state’s vocational rehabilitation program.
  • Social service organizations. Some organizations, such as Optimist, Kiwanis, and Lion’s Clubs, sponsor programs within their communities to offer hearing healthcare.

4. I’m afraid I’ll lose my hearing aids.
This may be a concern for you if you often lose other items, such as your keys or eyeglasses. However, unlike those items, which can be picked up and put down in multiple locations several times a day, your hearing aids should rarely be taken out during the day. If you wear them properly, you will likely put on your hearing aids early in the morning and take them out just before you go to bed.
Choose a designated place to always store your hearing aids. By making your hearing aids part of your morning and nighttime routines, you can lower the risk that you will lose them.
5. I don’t like going to the doctor.
For many people, this fear is connected to a feeling of uncertainty about what will happen during the appointment. Put your mind at ease by knowing that your first hearing evaluation will likely include the following steps:

  • The hearing healthcare professional (or a member of their team) will ask you some questions about your overall health.
  • They will use a special light called an otoscope to painlessly examine your ear canals and eardrums.
  • They will measure the level of hearing in each ear in a sound-treated test booth.
  • After the testing is complete, the hearing healthcare professional will discuss the results with you. As needed, they will also offer treatment options and recommendations.

If you are concerned about the cost of the appointment, most hearing evaluations cost between $150 and $225, depending on the specific tests you need. Many insurance plans cover this cost, so check with your insurance provider. Your hearing health practice may also offer financing options for qualified patients, so do not let the cost deter you from taking care of your hearing health.
With this information, you should feel confident in seeking the hearing healthcare you need, including hearing aids. To learn more about hearing aids and their benefits, we invite you to contact our hearing healthcare practice today.