The aging process happens to everyone, and along with it comes issues such as hearing loss that are in most cases unavoidable. If you’re sneaking off to another room to avoid conversations, or nodding politely and smiling at the dinner table in the hopes that you’re looking in the right general direction, it’s time to get a hearing test.
The answer may well be hearing aids, but these are not the hearing aids of old. Newer devices are much more discrete, and they have technology that will help you seem and feel younger again.
What Are You Missing?
You may think it’s easy to ask people to speak more loudly, or to talk into your “good ear”, but that isn’t enough. Imagine your grandchild asking for a snack and you replying, “Well of course you can come back.” That’s a nice sentiment, but it makes for an unhappy child. Now imagine what you might be missing when talking to healthcare providers or listening to directions in the car.
- Mild Hearing Loss – If you have mild hearing loss, you may not be able to hear someone whisper, “I love you,” and you may wonder why your favorite brook stopped babbling.
- Moderate Hearing Loss – If you love the sounds of coffee brewing or the rain falling, you will miss out if you have moderate hearing loss.
- Moderate to Severe Hearing Loss = People with moderate to severe hearing loss miss out on laughter and the voices of people who are speaking at a regular volume. Nobody wants that.
Newer Hearing Aids
There are several types of hearing aids, and none of them look remotely like the ones you may remember.
- In-the-Canal or Completely-in-the-Canal – These are the smallest of the hearing aids, and others can rarely even see them.
- In-the-Ear – These aids fit in the outer part of your ear, and they are much easier to handle than smaller devices.
- Behind-the-Ear – These are similar to older hearing aids only in that they rest behind your ear. The casings are much smaller now and much less noticeable than in the past.
- Behind-the-Ear Open Fitting – These are smaller models with a clear tube that runs into the ear canal, so they are much harder for people to notice.
- Receiver-in-Canal – These hearing aids are similar to open fitting, but they use a wire instead of a tube to connect to a speaker. These are also hard for other people to spot.
Hearing Aid Technology
No discussion about newer hearing aids is complete without mentioning the amazing new technologies available. Not only are they now harder for people to spot, they let you do things you wouldn’t have dreamed of. Not all hearing aids have all features, so be sure you are totally up front with your doctor about what features you need to improve your quality of life.
- Noise Cancellation – This technology helps block the background noise that makes it difficult to isolate speech.
- Preprogramming – If you find yourself in the same settings frequently you can set your hearing aids to that environment and let it know when you are there.
- Remote Controls – Really want to wow your family at Thanksgiving? Pull out the remote control when Uncle John starts telling his usual (bad) jokes, adjust your hearing aids, and groan along with everyone else at the appropriate time.
- Audio Input – Some hearing aids let you plug directly into your TV or computer. Enjoying your favorite shows or music again can certainly make you feel younger.
- Bluetooth – This technology lets you connect your hearing aids to other devices such as the TV or your cellphone without using wires. Pair this with a remote control and your family will never know that you turned up the volume to your hearing aids to enjoy the movie with them.
Hearing aids don’t make you seem old, but distancing yourself from your family and your regular activities might. Talk to a professional about the right hearing aid for you, and enjoy the sounds of birds chirping and children laughing for the first time in years. Remember, 90 percent of hearing aid wearers say they would recommend getting them to friends.