Now hear this, men: Hearing aids can be a life changer

Doctor inserting hearing aid in man's ear

Chalk one up for exasperated women everywhere. Odds are the older men in their lives actually don’thear them and need a hearing aid. Some estimates suggest that by age 65, about one-third of men need hearing aids. However, only half of this group wears them.

Why men tend to resist hearing aids

“Men tend to avoid hearing aids because of their negative imagery,” says Dr. Steven Rauch, an otologist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts Eye and Ear. “To them, hearing aids symbolize declining age and health and that their best years are behind them.”

While some men can get by without a hearing aid, they need to consider the potential impact hearing loss has on their life, relationships, and even cognitive health. “Left untreated, hearing loss is associated with higher risks for social isolation, depression, dementia, and reduced physical activity,” says Dr. Rauch.

If you think you might need a hearing aid, get tested

The first step to knowing whether you need a hearing aid is to get your hearing checked by a certified audiologist. (Ask your doctor for a recommendation.) Hearing tests measure loudness and clarity of sound — how loud the sound needs to be for you to hear it and how clear the sound is.

People with normal hearing can hear sounds with a loudness between zero and 25 decibels (dB). When the softest sounds you can hear are louder than 30 dB, you may be missing a significant amount of speech and are probably a candidate for a hearing aid.

It is important to note that hearing aids are amplifiers — they make sounds louder, but not clearer. If you have trouble understanding speech in a noisy environment (a clarity problem), there are ways to improve communication without a hearing aid. For example, when speaking with someone, sit face-to-face and reduce background noise, like the TV, or distractions, like reading the paper. Be fully focused and engaged. “Ask the person not to shout, but to speak more slowly and more clearly in order to hyper-enunciate words,” says Dr. Rauch.

If you do have a hearing problem…

Age-related hearing loss and noise-induced hearing loss tend to affect both ears equally. If hearing loss occurs in one ear but not the other, it could be a result of a stroke, infection, or tumor, and requires a medical evaluation, says Dr. Rauch.

People with single-sided hearing loss, or hearing loss that is different in each ear, are less likely to benefit from a hearing aid in the bad ear. “These people seem to have trouble fusing the electronic sound of a hearing aid with the normal sound in the opposite ear,” says Dr. Rauch.

Hearing aids also have a learning curve. “If you’ve had a gradual, progressive hearing loss over a period of years, your brain is out of practice processing and filtering the full spectrum of normal sounds, so it needs time to adjust,” says Dr. Rauch. Wear your hearing aids for about an hour daily and then gradually increase your time over a few weeks. You don’t have to wear them all the time either. Put them in only when you need to, but the more you use them, the quicker you will adjust.

Also, be aware that not everyone finds hearing aids pleasurable. “They make everything louder — voices, noises, sounds — and some may find it overwhelming in places with a lot of stimulus like restaurants and crowds,” says Dr. Rauch. “They are usually more helpful in quieter environments.”

Factors to consider when hearing aid shopping

  • A hearing aid center offers a better range of features, options, and prices than a franchise, which often has limited choices.
  • A single aid can cost from $3,000 to $4,000, although most vendors offer a discount for the second one.
  • Medicare and most other insurance plans don’t cover hearing aids, but the Veterans Administration might.
  • Check the consumer protection laws regarding hearing aids for your state.
  • The average hearing aid lasts about five years.

Related Information: Hearing Loss: A guide to prevention and treatment

Doctor inserting hearing aid in man’s ear

Below are spiritual recipe for health and wellness: Matthew E. McLaren

Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. Proverbs 21:21 NIV

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:15 NIV

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs. Proverbs 10:12 NIV

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 NIV

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12:31 NIV

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me,

I will call on him as long as I live. Psalm 116:1-2 NIV

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8 NIV

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1 NIV

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30 NIV

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