hearings aids

agnespuffinMarch 16, 2012

A frequent problem with caring for the elderly is the use of hearing aids.

One complaint is that they won't use them. My husband and I can relate to that one. Perhaps you need our viewpoint to understand.

We LIKE the quiet. No lawn mower from next door, we can't hear the washing maching, the heating system, the telephone bell is not that jarring. Etc. etc. It's just much nicer so we don't wear our aids. Of course, we don't talk to each other much either, but that's OK too. At our age, we can almost read each other's mind. LOL

Another problem is that they say that they don't work. That may be true. It may be they need new batteries or cleaning out a chunk of wax.

But one BIG problem that you might need to look into is the hearing aid batteries. Getting those teensyweensy things into those ittybitty holes is a big, big, problem. I suspect that a lot of folks might just put off changing the horrid things,,,,,and then they forget to do it.

Maybe you could somehow get into the habit of changing them for your loved one. It might help the dratted aids to work better.

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I "hear" you! I've been wearing hearing aids since I was in my thirties. I was a high school history teacher when I got my first pair. The first thing I noticed was not amplified voices but the loud rustling of papers in the classroom. It used to drive me nuts. So I definitely sympathize with those who enjoy the "quiet."

And I do understand the battery problem. It's difficult enough when your fingers still work. But if you're older and suffering from arthritis or low vision, changing hearing aid batteries can be a real challenge. Your suggestion of changing the batteries for your loved ones is a really great idea.

I'll add my two cents too. My mom developed a hearing loss when she hit about 90. I took her to my audiologist and he confirmed the problem. He was extremely polite, friendly, and courteous. And he took the time to carefully and slowly explain both her hearing loss and the different hearing aid options. However, every time I looked at her, I could see that glazed over, blank look on her face. She wasn't understanding anything he was saying. At this point in her life, she could no longer operate the answering machine she'd had for four years. It struck me, as I was watching her, that she no longer had the ability to adapt to a new technological product. I could get her a set of hearing aids, but she would never be able to manage them. That was the end of that.

I'm glad that I've been wearing them for so long. I've gone through several upgrades and am pretty confident that I'll be OK as I age.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 5:09PM
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Hearing aids do take understanding and cooperation from the wearer. If you have that, they are quite wonderful. In my own case as care giver for 99-year-old mom they are a godsend. She can hear and understand well with them but without them she's essentially stone-deaf. Thankfully, she is able to manage them quite well herself except for changing the batteries, which she is unable to see. She places the aids themselves by feel, but at least she understands what she's doing. Having worn them for twenty years, it's pretty familiar to her at this point.

I've also learned that the nursing homes hate them because so many residents take the batteries like pills.

Must say the latest models (the ones without ear-molds) are quite impressive. Upon adjusting them to match the indications of a good hearing test, the improvement in hearing and understanding is nothing short of remarkable. The bad news is that the best ones still cost thousands per-piece.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 3:57PM
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Even the most expensive ones (my MIL is on her second set, two different brands, both $3K a pair) aren't cure-alls. They don't help much with telephone conversations, for instance. They still work best if the person speaking is facing the wearer head-on; side speakers still get missed in the ambient noise and people speaking from behind will still have to shout to be noticed by the wearer.

The good thing is that when you've got aids at this price level, the audiologists will change the batteries out for free (you have to pay for the batteries, but even the receptionist can change them out for you in a flash) and coming in for a cleaning and check-up every six months is also free, for life.

Even with computerized fine-tuning, however, MIL hates wearing them and is getting less vigilant about using them.

Why is this a problem? Well, for one thing, we've got a home alarm system, but she can't hear it. She can't hear the doorbell, either. She can hear the phone only if she's in the same room with it.

She lives with us, but we're fairly active and are often gone during the day. As her dementia progresses and she gets more resistant towards wearing the hearing aids, we have to worry about her safety. She will walk down the middle of an aisle in a parking lot, blithely assuming she is keeping an eye out for approaching cars (she can't see well) or will hear them (ditto). Her dementia keeps her from noticing that the cars will be approaching her from BEHIND!

My DH and I don't much like noise either. But ignoring the safety issue - we live in an area where there's a fair amount of casual crimes, like home break-ins, in the middle of the day when most people are at work - MIL not wearing her hearing aids is not a positive thing.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 5:11PM
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"....MIL hates wearing them and is getting less vigilant about using them."

Well, there's the nut -- for many people without dementia, too. You have to WANT to hear. In my retirement community I've known many people who were compelled to buy the aids but hardly ever use them. They usually say something like "I don't have a problem. People should learn to enunciate." ....or variations on the theme.

Also much experience with people who think "they're all alike" and won't spend money for units that actually would help them. The audiologists, of course, have aids in MANY price ranges and all too often and all too willingly will provide something inferior if that's what they have to do make the sale. It's a shame, but I've seen it often. The older men are the worst. For some reason, they seem to think they know everything and become resistant to higher quality units. After all, they all look the same, don't they? But the differences are enormous.

Add dementia, and the problem is compounded.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 7:07PM
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Yes, it pays to have good ones. I think that it is also a good idea to have the hearing checked by an audioligist that works with a doctor. I worry about these chain business that are in the business to sell, sell sell.

There are hearing problems that can't be helped by aids. It's not a matter of not hearing the sound, the ear just can't process the infomation. It hears only garbage.
A good unit may be able to weed out some of this.

Also, make sure that the aid are marked to show which ear. Mine have a little Red...R for Right ...mark on the right one. But it's hard for me to see without my glasses. Maybe a larger spot would help.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 7:20PM
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One tremendous improvement is the advent of aids that no longer require an ear-mold. There's just a tiny wired micro-speaker that is suspended inside the ear canal. The improvement in service for the audiologist and for the buyer is vastly improved. Because no ear-mold is required, the unit can be taken off the shelf, adjusted according to the individual's hearing test, and tried out on-the-spot. The customer/patient no longer has to buy blind. Better service for the patient/customer and shortened cycle for the audiologist/vendor. Because the ear canal remains open, the aid doesn't have to be removed to talk on the phone.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 8:10PM
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