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.
Our expert hearing aid repair technicians are able to repair over 90% of broken hearing aids in our office, while you wait, free of charge!
Call today for your appointment! (469) 843-0071
- We repair all makes and models of hearing aids
- Repairs done while you wait
- We honor all warranties
- Most repairs free (parts available in-house)
“You Hear Because We Care”
Do you have a hearing loss that needs to be evaluated by a professional?
If you answer YES to TWO or MORE of the following questions, you should get a professional hearing test. Contact us for an in-person hearing evaluation:
- Do you hear, but have trouble understanding certain words during conversation?
- Do you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves?
- Do you have trouble hearing when you can’t see the speaker’s face?
- Do you have a problem hearing over the telephone?
- Do people complain that you turn the TV volume up too high?
- Do you have trouble understanding women’s or children’s voices?
- Do you have trouble hearing in a noisy background? (restaurants, movies, churches)?
- Do you have trouble following a conversation with two or more people talking at the same time?
- Do you have to strain to understand conversation?
- Do family members or co-workers remark that you are missing what has been said?
- Do many people you talk to seem to mumble (or not speak clearly)?
- Do you misunderstand what others are saying and respond inappropriately?
- The outer ear includes the ear canal and eardrum.
- The middle ear begins just behind the eardrum and consists of the three smallest bones of the human body known as the malleus, incus, and stapes. The three bones together are called the ossicles.
- The inner ear contains the semicircular canals, cochlea, stereocilia (also known as hair cells contained in the cochlea) and the beginning of the auditory nerve.
How the parts of the ear all work together to translate sound.
- Sound travels down the air-filled ear canal and collides with the eardrum, causing it to vibrate.
- The vibration of the eardrum causes the ossicles of the air-filled middle ear to vibrate as well.
- This in turn, causes movement of the hair cells in the fluid-filled inner ear. The movement of the hair cells produce electrical signals which are sent through the auditory nerve to the brain.
- The brain then interprets these signals as sound.
It can be total or partial, gradual or sudden, temporary or permanent. It can affect one ear or both ears. Generally, the risk of suffering hearing loss increases with age.
There are three types of hearing loss. They are categorized by the part of the auditory system that is damaged:
- Conductive Hearing Loss – when sound is not conducted efficiently through what is known as the outer ear (ear canal to the eardrum) or the middle ear (the eardrum through the three tiny bones of the middle ear called the malleus, incus, and stapes). Conductive hearing loss usually involves a reduction in sound level or the inability to hear faint sounds. This type of hearing loss can usually be treated with medication or surgery.
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss – when there is damage to the inner ear (cochlea, stereocilia, and/or auditory nerve) or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain. Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of permanent hearing loss and generally cannot be medically or surgically treated. If you have sensorineural hearing loss, even when speech is loud enough to hear, it may still sound muffled or unclear. Most of the time hearing aids are the solution to sensorineural hearing loss.
- Mixed Hearing Loss – when both Sensorineural and Conductive Hearing Loss are present, this is known as mixed hearing loss. With mixed hearing loss, an individual would have damage to both the outer and/or middle ear and the inner ear.
Kim Johnson studied Business Administration at Texas State University from 1983-1986 and attended SMU’s Cox School of Business from 2011-2013, graduating with an Executive MBA.
Kim and her husband Richard enjoy traveling, watching their youngest daughter play college volleyball, and spending quality time with family and friends.
Connect with Kim on LinkedIn.