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Hearing Aids
Old 09-22-2007, 03:18 PM   #1
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Hearing Aids

Looking for some input regarding hearing aids and counsel regarding prices, features and product ratings. My 85 yr mother has been to a Miracle Ear franchise in a Sears and is being told she should spend 2800 for a new unit. There is no doubt she needs a hearing aid, the question is about what is a reliable means to determine if the product being sold and the provider are offering good value.
A web search indicates there is no one right answer for the right device as everyone's hearing needs are a bit different. On the other hand there are also a lot of references to questionable practices and overcharging by Miracle Ear and Beltone operators and their respective corporate operations.
Any assistance will be much appreciated
Many thanks
Nwsteve
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Old 09-22-2007, 07:33 PM   #2
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That is a tough one. I would suggest she see a Doctor (ENT type that specializes in the ear part) that can evaluate her hearing and recommend specifically what she needs to get. That method may or may not be more expensive but you will know she is getting what she needs. I use hearing aids but they are provided to me by the VA along with the batteries at no cost (military disability) so I cannot judge the cost you have been quoted.

Some questions I would ask are:

Does she need TWO hearing aids or will one suffice (cost batteries can get expensive)?

Will your Mother actually wear them (I wear them very seldom as do most people that get them)?

Who is going to do the needed adjustments to the aid(s) over time and what does that cost?
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Old 09-22-2007, 07:59 PM   #3
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My husband wears hearing aids and was referred to the audiologist by a physician. She is wonderful!! If your Mom lives in the Seattle SMSA I will pm you with her name.

She checks his aids at least every 6 months, adjusts them for acuity and provides the batteries. If we move away we will travel to see her, she is that good.
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Old 09-22-2007, 09:19 PM   #4
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I agree that the best first step is for her to be evaluated by a ENT doc who can make the referral to an audiologist. My 88 year old dad first went to a Beltone store and got a recommendation for hearing aids that were in the neighborhood of $3,600. When he finally saw the audiologist, he learned that he didn't need the top of the line models, but that a simpler digital version would work equally well for his hearing loss. The audiologist has been wonderful working with him on needed adjustments, etc.
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Old 09-23-2007, 12:04 PM   #5
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From someone that has a profound hearing loss and wears a hearing aid, please go to an ENT doc for a hearing test and referral for purchasing a hearing aid. I have a Resound, digital aid that is programmed for my hearing loss. I always have in the back of my mind, that some of these hearing aid stores are just out to get the elderly. My audiologist gave me a 3 year supply of batteries when I purchased my aid.
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Old 09-23-2007, 01:00 PM   #6
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FYI - I noticed that some Costco stores have an audiologist on duty and sell hearing aids.

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Old 09-23-2007, 09:21 PM   #7
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Here are a few links I bookmarked while researching this for my FIL:

Why do Hearing Aids Cost So Much?
Wearing a Hearing Aid for the First Time - Deafness
RNID.org.uk: Information and resources: About deafness and hearing loss: Types and causes of deafness: Noise
Improving Hearing Aid Design and Performance
Hearing Loss Web Forum
Digital Hearing Aids vs. Analog Hearing Aids
http://americahears.com/Technology.html#FreedomBTE

Question: Would your mother be bothered wearing something that looks like an iPod - complete with wired earbuds? As far as I can tell, the cost in hearing aids is getting them miniaturized to fit in the ear. This results in many, many compromises.

>The mic is close to the speaker - creates feedback very easily.
>Miniaturization costs money.
>Miniaturization means tiny, expensive, short lived batteries.
>Miniaturization means components chosen for size/power consumption versus performance.

A body worn unit versus in-the-ear has none of these restraints. Behind-the-ear unit has fewer compromises than in-the ear.

These modern mp3 players run all day on a few hours of charge, the batteries are good for years, and some of them are less than $100. The technology is not that different from a hearing aid. No reason we can't have excellent, low cost, body worn hearing aids.

But, I guess the wires, or the Behind-the-Ear look is just a no-go for many people. How ironic is it that people with good hearing walk around with earbuds in, or one of those Bluetoth cell phone 'bugs' in their ear, and think nothing of it?

But the people who could really benefit from the improved performance and reliability of a body worn unit, reject the idea. Some of this is vanity (personal decision), but I think a lot is marketing and a desire to 'up-sell'. The sellers like to say 'oh, but this expensive unit is the best we make - you want the best, right?' - but best for who? Do they offer the option of a body worn unit? Not that I'm aware of.

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Old 09-24-2007, 11:15 AM   #8
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The choice of type of aid needs to consider the capabilities of the user. The mother in this case is in her mid-80s. Women can be vain, even at that age, but more than that are her thought processes adequate to manage a specific aid. My husband's aids are tiny, it is easy to loose them.

Particularly in this situation buy insurance!!! Aids don't launder well, they are easily misplaced, and tend to drop into inaccessible crevices.
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Old 09-24-2007, 09:37 PM   #9
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Many thanks for all the input. Not sure why I did not ask the obvious regarding getting a recommendation from her physician who is a top knotch gerontologist and she trusts.
We have successfully deferrred the Miracle Ear 3k decision and she is on the path to get a professional audiologiest evaluation instead of a merchant.
Thanks again to all.
nwsteve
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Old 10-02-2007, 09:43 AM   #10
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They need to get their hearing tested first, then based upon the recommendation of the Audiologist, they should go see a Doctor. Check out the Hearing Aid Forum. The Hearing Aid Forum - A Community for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing :: Index

There we are discussing in detail everything you need to know about hearing aids, including where to find deals!

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Old 04-15-2008, 05:11 PM   #11
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A relative new kind of hearing aid called the Lyric may interest some of us folks with hearing loss. Here's a report in the NYTimes:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/15/health/15well.html

But add $3000 a year to your retirement budget.
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Old 04-15-2008, 06:15 PM   #12
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Interesting. Another advance driven by boomer-aging.
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Old 04-15-2008, 09:30 PM   #13
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Over all the technology and expertise now are an advance over the days when any snake-oil salesman without proper training could set up shop and sell hearing aids. Such was the case years ago when my father who was hard of hearing bought these devices, none of which were up to the job.
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Old 04-15-2008, 09:30 PM   #14
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Very interesting. This is the kind of thing that will benefit from technology improvements - it should get better/cheaper over time.

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Old 04-15-2008, 10:45 PM   #15
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Okay, off topic, but "hear" goes:
- I think everyone agrees that a lot of the problems we experience as we age is due simply to the fact that we are living beyond our evolutionary design limit. From a strict "passing on of genes" perspective, there's not much point in an individual living beyond 40 years old, in fact they just use up resources that fertile members of the tribe (with many of the smae genes) could be using to raise young 'uns. So, much of the hearing loss we experience as we get old is likely due to this "wearing out" factor.
- But I also wonder if a lot of hearing loss isn't due to the daily wear and tear on the components of our auditory system. Sure, we all know that gunshots, loud music, etc causes unrecoverable hearing loss. But aside from this, what about all the "regular" sound we hear? There's seldom a moment when I'm not listening to another person, to the radio, to the TV in the background, etc. None of this (at modest volume levels) is cited as causing hearing loss. But think of the the auditory environment that man evolved in--recall the last time you were out in the woods, etc. Very little sound at all. I wonder if just the regular sound of daily modern living causes the wear and tear on the hair cells/nerves attached to them or other sensitive stuff.
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Old 04-15-2008, 11:22 PM   #16
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Makes sense to me.
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