Are Hearing Aids Necessary as We Get Older?

Age-related hearing loss, known medically as presbycusis, is an incredibly common condition, affecting roughly half of all people over the age of 75. As we reach our later decades, changes in the inner ear and auditory pathway cause many adults to experience decreased hearing sensitivity and clarity. The question for those experiencing this hearing decline is whether or not hearing aids are a necessary intervention. There are a few key considerations in making this determination.  

Hearing Aids Make Conversational Speech Better

On the positive side, contemporary hearing aids are technologically advanced assistive devices that can dramatically boost hearing ability. The latest hearing aid models are digitally programmed based on one’s unique hearing loss profile, selectively amplifying the frequencies an individual struggles to hear clearly. 

Quality hearing aids can make conversational speech much more intelligible and reduce the need for communication partners to raise their voices excessively. Hearing one’s loved ones and accessing entertainment can become pleasurable again. Hearing aids also likely reduce the risks of dementia and depression accompanying untreated age-related hearing difficulties.  

There are Limitations

However, hearing aids do not restore perfect, youthful hearing capacity – there are still limitations in challenging environments. Expectations need calibration so unmet hopes do not lead to the underuse of hearing aids or denial of slowly progressing impairment from aging. The devices also require proper insertion, operation competence, maintenance, and replacement after 4-6 years due to component failures from extensive wear. Hearing aids range widely in price too, generally being an out-of-pocket cost. Some people find this cost burden difficult to manage on fixed incomes.  

Visit a site like Hear Clear NI to get a good idea of the cost and what to expect from the process.

What to Expect from Hearing Aids

The main styles of hearing aids are behind-the-ear, receiver-in-canal, in-the-ear, and completely-in-canal models. Behind-the-ear hearing aids rest over the outer ear, while the other options fit partly or fully within the ear canal for a more discrete appearance. 

When getting fitted for a hearing aid, an audiologist will assess your type and degree of hearing loss and lifestyle needs to determine which model and features may be most suitable. They will take ear molds if required, tune the amplification settings using a computer, and make sure the fit is optimal. Expect multiple follow-up visits to adjust the hearing aid programming and ensure maximum benefit and comfort.

Have Realistic Expectations

Ultimately, for those with mild-moderate age-related hearing loss causing communication problems or isolation, contemporary hearing aids often provide substantial benefits that merit investment. The key is having realistic expectations about your capabilities and wearing hearing aids full-time to fully adapt to amplified sound. 

Consulting an audiologist helps determine whether loss levels and lifestyle needs make individuals suitable for a trial with these assistive hearing devices. If difficulties persist with properly fit aids, then adaptation support or alternative solutions may need exploration before giving up on them. 

For many seniors, hearing aids are life-changing necessities, but personalised guidance is key in overcoming hearing loss.

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