Hearing Health and Technology -- Workshop, Project No. P171200
As an Audiologist who dispenses hearing aids, I obviously depend on the sale of hearing aids as my livelihood. But, I am of the notion that I am a hearing health professional first. I became an Audiologist at a time when it was illegal for Audiologists to sell hearing aids. So my purpose of entering into this field was to improve communication skills for my patients. After 38 years I have to come to realize that the hearing aid is not the total component of improved hearing. Hearing loss is a complex issue that can include distortion of sound, tinnitus, sensitivity to loud sound, inability to localize sound or hear in background noise. How someone's hearing loss effects them is not necessarily reflective of their degree of hearing loss but might be dependent on their age, work situation, family dynamic, and emotional being. People have all kinds of reasons for getting and for not getting hearing aids. Money has rarely been a factor because there is a hearing aid for every budget. Research has shown that in England, where patients do not pay for hearing aids, use is the same as in the United States. Whatever level of technology a patient gets, when they come to my office, they get me, to guide them and adjust the hearing aids so they are giving the patient maximum performance for their specific needs. I will make sure their hearing loss is not a mild hearing loss due to wax or an acoustic neuroma, or otosclerosis. I will discuss treatment for their tinnitus and direct them where they should go for a balance assessment. In my experience, the level of technology a patient chooses is not based on their degree of hearing loss but how much it impacts their life. I have had patients with borderline normal to mild hearing losses that struggle at the office and background noise and want the best hearing aids so they have every advantage to hear well in difficult listening situations. It is not very difficult for patients to get access to my office and my services. They need to want to do something about their hearing loss and that is the crux of the problem. We are selling something that nobody wants to admit they need. And they will not admit that need for an over the counter hearing aid that is bigger than what I have and not as effective Put money into advertising the importance of hearing health care and the benefits of amplification. Give people a $500 tax deduction, and direct access to the Audiologist and you will have eliminated several of the road blocks to getting hearing aids. Now you just have to remove the stigma of "hearing aids make me look old" and you will have achieved a successful hearing aid program.