New hearing aids can cost thousands of dollars, and most insurance companies and Medicare do not cover this price tag. The good news is that many people can use recycled hearing aids for a fraction of the cost.
You can help by donating your used hearing aids, by helping your loved one locate a used device or help them with the cost of getting it reprogrammed and fitted to their needs.
What is a Recycled Hearing Aid?
As the name implies, recycled hearing aids were developed for someone else’s ear, based on the specifics of their hearing loss and what was needed to improve it. The inner workings of a hearing aid are made up of a microphone, amplifier, and speaker. If meant to fit inside the ear, the device is encased in plastic that was molded for the original user so that it doesn’t fall out or stick out too far. For over the ear hearing aids, a plastic case is molded based on the original user’s outer ear, again to ensure that it sits properly in place. Because hearing aids have the same inner workings, the inner or outer casings can be changed by a professional to fit a new user.
Refitting a Hearing Aid
In order to use a recycled hearing aid, the new user must have it changed in two areas. First, they must get a mold of their inner or outer ear depending on the type of device they will be using. They must then send a current hearing test to the manufacturer or to a company that specializes in programming hearing aids, to have the device reprogrammed. It is crucial that the device be specific to the new user, as every person with hearing loss has different needs. Some people only need sounds to be amplified, while others have issues related to their ability to hear when there is a lot of background noise. People with less damage to their inner ears do not need the same amplification levels as those with more loss, and using a device that over-amplifies for their needs could cause further damage.
How You Can Help
If you or a loved one have a used hearing aid, there several organizations that accept them for recycling. While the cost of a new hearing aid is out of reach for some, many can afford to have used hearings aids re-cased and reprogrammed to suit their needs. Rather than spending thousands of dollars per ear, these people receive the gift of hearing for a much smaller investment.
If you have a loved one who has hearing loss, talk to them about the possibility of recycled hearing aids if they worry or struggle to afford new ones. If the cost of refitting and reprogramming is still out of reach, consider getting together with other family members to give a recycled hearing aid as a gift. Few things show your loved one how much you care as providing the gift of hearing improving their quality of life.