What Did You Say? Seniors in Westchester County and Fairfield County Could be Hearing Better with a Visit to an Audiologist and New Hearing Aid Technology.
This week, I visited my senior parents, (92 and 87) in Westchester County and was trying to have a conversation with my mom who was 20 feet away from me on the porch. The dialog went something like the comedy routine by Abbot and Costello,“Who’s On First?”
Me “Mom, would you like to go for a walk?
Mom “What did you say?”
Me “Would you like to go out?”
Mom “I can’t hear you because I don’t have my hearing aids in?”
Me “Dad, do you know where mom’s hearing aids are so I can help her put them in?”
Dad “I can’t hear you because I don’t have my hearing aids in.”
Ahh, the joys of visiting your senior parents and speaking a bit louder and repeating yourself. Thank goodness for modern technology and advances in hearing aides. Voila, once they both had placed their hearing aids in, they both could hear me and one another clearly.
Too Many Acronyms, But They All Work Well!
Due to the miniaturization of electronics, hearing aids can be fit for a broad range of hearing losses in more styles and sizes than ever before. These main Hearing Aid styles now are:
BTE (Behind The Ear - Mini, Standard or Power) devices have been around for awhile and are worn with the hearing aid on top of and behind the ear. All of the parts are self-contained in a case at the back of the ear, and a sound tube leads to the ear canal with a custom mould or tip. Over recent years, they have gotten much smaller and versatile to help with nearly every type of hearing loss. They are the easiest to use and the most reliable as they very rarely fail. When something does goes wrong with a BTE, it usually is the physical controls or the microphones. Good news is the most BTE manufacturers have introduced new types of microphone covers to enclose the microphones protecting them further.
ITE (In The Ear) devices are shaped like a half shell or full shell. These are custom-made devices where all of the electronics are inside a device that fits into your ear; they come in many sizes and can be CIC (completely in Canal) or IIC (Invisible in Canal). IIC is a custom-fitted style inserted farther into the ear canal than other styles, so it's completely invisible when worn.
RIC (Receiver In Canal) and RITE (Receiver In The Ear) devices are similar in concept to BTE hearing aids, with the exception that the receiver (the speaker) has been removed from the case that sits behind
the ear. It is fitted in your ear canal or ear and connected to the case of the hearing aid with a thin wire. The devices have become very popular because they are versatile fitting many types of hearing losses and very discreet.
MIH (Microphone In Helix) only available from Resound and Beltone
Do Not Fear A Test To Hear
A hearing test by an Audiologist should not be something to fear as it is just an evaluation of your ability to hear. It is not a test you pass or fail. The hearing test appointment will usually last about one and a half hours and includes several different smaller tests that allow a professional to understand the reasons you are having hearing loss.
According to Eduardo Bravo, Au.D., Doctor of Audiology at Audio Help Hearing Centers in Scarsdale, Stamford and NYC, “ Seeing an Audiologist is essential to evaluate your ability to hear and choose the best Hearing Aid option for your needs. Real Ear Measurements (REMs) or Speech Mapping are essential for best practices for fitting hearing aids.”
The Hearing Test
- Examination of the ear and auditory canal, including video otoscopy
- Case history - questions about your health and hearing history
- Full audiometric hearing assessment that will include pure tone testing, middle ear testing and possibly speech testing in quiet and noise.
- Explanation and discussion of outcome
- Impartial advice on the best hearing aid options for you
Hearing aids can be pricey and can range from $1000 on up to more than $4000 for each device depending on the level of technology. Most people with hearing loss need to purchase two hearing aids (devices), and most insurance does not cover the cost. AudioHelp has a 12 month interest-free financing on hearing aids. To see if you are eligible for low-cost hearing aids, you may call the following organizations: Starkey Hearing Foundation 1(800) 328-8602 and AUDIENT, An Alliance for Accessible Hearing Care:1(866) 956-5400
Learn More About Hearing Aids For Seniors From These Resources Below
1) To receive the proper advice and the names of qualified audiologists, call the Westchester County Office for People with Disabilities:(914) 995-2957(914) 995-7397 (TTY)
2) The Lions Club, several chapters found in Westchester and Fairfield counties, has a program called Affordable Hearing Aid Project that can help local seniors get hearing aids (apparently, they're not covered by many insurance policies or Medicare):
3) The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 204,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students.
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