Many studies – both in the U.S. and abroad – have been conducted to determine if we can connect the dots between losing hearing and “losing the mind.” While the studies don’t draw exactly the same conclusions or know what exactly the connection is, most researchers do agree that there is a definite link between age-related hearing loss and dementia.
Hearing Loss: The Invisible Handicap
Most of us take our hearing for granted. As one of our five senses, we rely on it in everything we do during our waking hours, from hearing the alarm go off to wake us in the morning to the sweet voices of our loved ones at the end of the day.
If the ability to hear diminishes, it’s usually a gradual process. It often starts with having trouble hearing softer voices, lower volumes on our car radios or listening devices, hearing a car horn in traffic, picking up what people in a group are saying to you and one another, or even being totally unaware someone is talking to you from a few feet away. After a period of time, you may find yourself struggling to perform at work, withdrawing socially, and feeling alienated and alone. You’ve placed yourself in psychological solitary confinement.
Hearing loss is considered the third most prevalent chronic health condition facing older adults. As many as one-third of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 experience a loss of hearing. That figure jumps to 50 percent at the age of 75 and over. The tragedy is that for most, treatment is as simple as using a hearing aid and yet only about 20 percent seek help. Those who do get tested wait more than 10 years – even after their diagnosis – to get fitted with one. By that time, their condition is so advanced they are for most practical purposes deaf.
When you can’t hear friends talking around the dinner table, your grandbaby crying in the next room, or you weren’t even aware that your co-worker was behind you at the door speaking to you, you know you can’t put off the decision any longer; It’s time for a hearing aid.
By age 65, one out of three Americans experience hearing loss, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America, yet very few older Americans seek help. They delay getting fitted with a hearing aid for over 10 years, on average.
Does Medicare cover hearing aids? That’s a question we are frequently asked by seniors and their loved ones. The answer is not definitive; it depends on the state in which you live, the type of Medicare program you have, and any supplemental health insurance.
If You’re Hearing Impaired and on Medicare, Financial Aid Can Help
Only three states at this time – Arkansas, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire – mandate full non-Medicare insurance coverage for hearing aids for adults. Hearing aids for Texas Medicare residents are not covered, but there are other hearing-related services open to you that can save you money. Some are even free. Also, laws are always changing, so more financial help may become available at any time.
Medicare Part B (that’s the part of Medicare that covers services and supplies needed to diagnose or treat your condition and services to prevent illness) covers the cost of exams to diagnose your hearing and balance problems – just not the actual hearing exams or exams for fitting hearing aids. Your doctor or other health care provider can order the tests to see if you need medical treatment. Some of these diagnostic tests may have deductibles or co-pays, depending on the type of Medicare and/or other insurance you have.
Supplemental Medicare programs, which are separate individual policies through private companies, may pick up the tab for hearing aids, give you an allowance, or have negotiated discounts with contracted providers to help defray some of the cost. So check with your supplemental insurance provider, if you have one, to see if you qualify for any benefits.
This year at CES 2016 ReSound had the opportunity to meet with reporters from global news outlets including Consumer Reports Health Editor Sue Byrne and Ed Cara from Medical Daily.
When Consumer Reports Health Editor Sue Byrne tried on ReSound LiNX2 she said, “for someone like me with no hearing loss, it was like having super hearing.” Byrne tested out the hearing aids and the ReSound Smart app while attending CES 2016. Even in a bustling convention atmosphere, she was able to hear the people speaking in front of her without being distracted by the chatter around her. Chief Audiology Officer, Laurel Christensen, spoke to Byrne about the personalized control saying, “This [ReSound Smart] app gives the user more control and more opportunity to be successful in getting the most out of a hearing aid.” To read the full article, click here.
ReSound was also proud to see ReSound LiNX2 as one of Medical Daily’s standout assistive technologies from CES 2016. Science writer Ed Cara says ReSound’s “latest line of “hearables” may very well represent the best technology of its kind on the market.” Additionally, Chief Audiology Officer, Laurel Christensen, says, “These are not your grandfather’s hearing aids. These are teeny-tiny, discreet devices, they don’t whistle anymore, and they’re well-fit.” To read the full article, click here.