The price of hearing aids has been a much-discussed challenge for years. In fact, the high cost of these devices has kept many older adults from making a purchase. The struggle it causes for couples and families isn’t always obvious.

Partners may not be able to watch television or listen to music together because of disagreements over volume. Even carrying on a conversation can be difficult. This situation is fairly common.

The Statistics on Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be caused by many factors. They range from working or living in a loud environment to trauma, age, nutritional deficits, or an infection. Here are a few things to know about hearing loss:

  • Trouble hearing is fairly common. Almost 15% of American adults ages 18 and over experience some problem with their hearing.
  • Men between the ages of 20 and 69 are twice as likely to have hearing loss as women of the same age.
  • Age is the leading indicator of a decline in hearing. People between the ages of 60 and 69 experience the greatest amount of hearing loss.
  • About 28.8 million people in the U.S. could benefit from using hearing aids.

Until recently, cost was a significant barrier to purchasing hearing aids. The process required multiple appointments with a licensed hearing professional followed by a purchase price of as much as $6,000. Few health insurance companies even covered the expense. Then a new rule went into effect in the fall of 2022 that made things easier and less expensive.

What to Know about Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aids

In 2017, a new law was passed that made hearing aids more accessible and affordable. It went into effect in the fall of 2022. The new law is for adults only and includes standards for safety and effectiveness. It also includes limits on how much the sound can be amplified (to avoid further damage to hearing), as well as stipulations related to the severity of the hearing impairment.

The good news is OTC models cost significantly less. They range in price from $200 to $1,000. As you are deciding which one might be a good fit, experts say to keep the following in mind:

  • Customization: While the preset OTC hearing aid model works for an estimated 68% of people, others will need one that is customizable. The self-fitting style is more expensive but allows the wearer to finely tune settings like amplification and frequencies.
  • Shape: OTC hearing aids come in two styles. One is placed inside the ear, and the other goes behind the ear. Each has its own pros and cons. It’s a good idea to experiment with each one to see which is a better fit for you. That includes trying to manipulate features.
  • Customer service: As is true of any new device, customer service can play a role in how well it works for you. Be sure to ask each company you are considering what days and hours their customer service is available. Also ask about how much support you will receive during the initial set-up and in the future.
  • Return policy: While no one goes into a purchase like this thinking it won’t work, things sometimes go wrong. Make sure the company has a good return policy and offers a warranty.

Shopping for an OTC hearing aid can be daunting. Fortunately, there are a variety of credible organizations that have reviewed products and shared their findings. Consumer Report’s “Best Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids for You” is one you may find useful.

Tour a Heritage Community This Spring

Spring is a great time to begin the search for a senior living community for yourself or a loved one. With communities throughout Michigan and one in Indiana, Heritage is likely to have a location that meets your needs. Call today to schedule a private visit and tour!