My mother is 75+ and is in need of a hearing aid. She nor my family is able to afford the 2-3000 dollars that she has been quoted.
I worked in a university audiology clinic for a semester. There are several things your mom can do. First, be sure she is seeing someone accredited by the American Speech Hearing Association (ASHA; http://www.asha.org). They should have the letters CCC-A after their name. There are a lot of people selling hearing aids who are not licensed audiologists, who just want to make money off of elderly people.
Second, there are definitely hearing aids available for under $1000 each -- the traditional (nonprogrammable) kind (I can't remember the exact price, but nowhere near $3000!). Behind-the-ear aids are also cheaper than in-the-ear aids. If there is a speech-language pathology/audiology program at a local university, often you can get cheaper rates for the fitting also (you may see a student for the evaluation, who is supervised by a licensed audiologist).
Contact Easter Seal Society
Regarding woman who felt she could not afford hearing aids, please check with the Easter Seal Society.
I wear hearing aids in both ears and I bought mine at Costco. You have to look for a store that has this department. I bought my aids about 4 years ago (one is a in-the-ear and other is in-the-ear-canal - Not the smallest one) and I got these BOTH for about $800 dollars. Far and away the best deal I have seen. These are not digital but they may be selling these models by now.
Years of Shopping Advice
Shop around!!!! I've worn a hearing aid since i was seven years old and I'm now 43. I have never spent more than $900. on a hearing aid and ive never had an insurance that covered the cost of hearing aids! I have 50% loss in one ear and 75% loss in the other. So I need quite strong aids. Don't let them talk you into buying all the bells and whistles!! I've found that many of these extras just dont make enough of a difference to be worth the extra cost. Hearing can never be restored 100% and at the quality of a normal hearing person. (BY THE WAY, aids that fit behind the ear are stronger, last longer and are several hundred dollars cheaper than the "in the ear " models.)
In the ear models last about 4 or 5 years with everyday use and behind the ear models last at least 10 years. Also, it is much easier for an older person to use a behind the ear model, larger volume and on/off switches and easier to put in the ear. The behind the ear models are better also because they have ear molds that can be inexpensively replaced (the in the ear model " is the mold "and if it doesn't fit properly after awhile the whole aid needs to be replaced).
Beltone Was Best
My mother is 81 and is profoundly hard of hearing. She too was quoted prices of over $2,000.00 for a new hearing aid. I called around to several different vendors and talked her needs over with her doctor. I found that her hearing loss is so great that the small expensive types of hearing aids were not suitable for her anyway. We found a really good and effective hearing aid at Beltone with a an amplifier to increase her understanding, for just over $900.00. She got her new hearing aid on July 1, 1999 and immediately she and I could tell a big improvement in her hearing and understanding. She is quite proficient at reading lips, but now she can hear and understand me when I call her to check on her. She is hearing the doorbell (with attached strobe light) and the television better now.
The Lions Club (at least the one in our area of Central Virginia) provides free re-fitted hearing aids to those who are on a limited income. The local chapter says all they need do is call their local Lions Club and ask. They have a screening process (not a lengthy or unpleasant one, I'm told).
May Need More Than Hearing Aid
Please see an audiologist for a hearing aid consultation. Im an audiologist in a private practice in central Florida. Our hearing aids range from $750-$2500 each. At the top of the price range are the digital hearing aids. They are very nice but only if you can comfortably afford them. A full-shell hearing aid with a class D amplifier and compression circuit costs $750. This is a good hearing aid, no fancy stuff- just comfortable hearing. Use these prices for comparison purposes but do keep in mind that prices may be slightly higher in metropolitan areas. I urge you to see an audiologist rather than a hearing aid dealer.
More Than Just Getting It
Check with Medicaid in your state to see if they cover hearing aids. Also, check with your mother's health insurance company; some will cover all or part of the cost of hearing aids.
Once your mother gets her hearing aid, she may need some time to get used to wearing them, and to relearn how to hear. (I've been wearing them all my life, so adjustment wasn't really an issue for me, but people I've known who have gradually lost their hearing often find the adjustment difficult.) There are several excellent books on this--try Self-Help for Hard of Hearing people's website at www.shhh.org
Also, your mother may need assistance using the telephone. Contact your state's telecommunications relay program for the deaf and hard of hearing (usually found in the front pages of your telephone book) or the state commission for the deaf and hard of hearing to find out about this. The Telecommunications Assistance Program offers free loan of telephone amplifiers, telephone bell ringers (very loud), text-telephones (TTYs) and other assistive devices. Some states have an income limit; others do not. If you move out of state you will need to turn the equipment in and get new equipment from your new state.
Another important thing to consider is a "T-coil" for the hearing aid--this will allow your mother to use assistive devices at church, theaters, etc. and will make it possible for her to hear better on the telephone. It must be a hearing aid-compatible telephone for the T-coil to work. If your mother has a very old telephone (more than 15 years) the T-coil will not work.
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