Approximately 48 million Americans suffer from hearing loss.
More than half of Canadians from 45 to 87 years of age also report hearing losses. These numbers continue to rise as most people suffer from the noise we encounter every day.
My wonderful wife, Irma, was born with a hereditary disease called otosclerosis. The cartilage in her inner ear continually grows and gradually causes her ability to hear. Irma came from a family of 12 and half of her siblings have the disease. A younger sister has undergone a cochlear implant where a hearing device is embedded under the skin behind the ear and is connected to nerves from the ear. Prior to the implant she suffered almost total hearing loss, but after the operation and with some training she hears extremely well.
Each of her siblings have been wearing hearing aids for many years.
Irma was fitted with her first aid 45 years ago, prior to the digital age. She has gone through many upgrades and now wears the most powerful aids available. Her hearing loss status is “profoundly deaf”. In fact, her audiologist does not detect any ability to hear but she feels that a hearing aid in that ear somehow helps her to hear, so she wears her oldest aid in that ear.
Some years ago we purchased a microphone that I could wear around my neck that connected digitally with her aid. When I spoke, she could hear me from a distance of approximately 90 feet. The problem was that when she needed to have a more powerful aid, the neck apparatus wouldn’t work. Since newer features are created almost every day, it was hard to keep up.
Then there is the problem of puffery.
When I first heard the word “puffery” I had to look it up in the dictionary. It simply means an article or story of exaggerating praise that often ignores or downplays opposing viewpoints or evidence to the contrary. Keep this in mind when you check out the advertising related to hearing loss.
Gradually, Irma’s hearing loss got to the point where I continually had to ask, “can you hear me now?” before I spoke.
The price of hearing aids has been rising over the years. Part of the problem is related to the time it takes to fit the aid to the person. The aid is connected to a computer and the data gleaned via the hearing test is employed to program the aid. More often than not a few adjustments may be required before the aid is functioning as it is intended.
We Buy a New Model
A couple of years ago, Irma was having problems with her six-year-old aid. She was quoted over $6,000 for a new pair. We were shopping in our COSTCO store and happened to notice their display of hearing aids. Their most powerful aid was $1,400 so we scheduled an appointment and she was fitted with a new aid. We asked why there was such a difference and were told that COSTCO was a wholesale outlet so we paid wholesale prices. They employed certified audiologists and couldn’t be more helpful. As her aid for her right ear didn’t need to be replaced we only replaced one aid.
Audio Induction Loop
We then installed a hearing loop (sometimes called an audio induction loop). It is a special type of sound system for use by people with hearing aids. The hearing loop provides a magnetic, wireless signal that is picked up by the hearing aid when it is set to the ‘T’ (Telecoil) setting. There is a small button on the aid that when it is set, the signal from the TV or microphone is picked up from anywhere in the area of the loop.
In our instance, I installed a light wire around the perimeter of the apartment along the ceiling. Both ends of the wire are connected to a small box that is connected to the TV. I have a small microphone near my chair in our living room. It is also connected to the box. When the TV is on, Irma can hear perfectly from anywhere in the apartment. The TV volume control can be turned off as the signal to the box is sent digitally so I can set my own volume level unlike previously when the volume had to be cranked up to the extreme for her to overcome her hearing loss.
These loop systems are being installed in large rooms, auditoriums, churches and wherever large groups of people gather. If a microphone is used, the hearing impaired will hear very well.
As most seniors know, little by little our bodies go on the fritz, but there are ways and means of taking care of things. Installing a loop is one way to take care of hearing loss.