Kari Lane is a doctoral-level registered nurse. She has a familial, hereditary, sensorineural hearing loss.
Older Adults Struggle to Hear
Most states have some form of protection
Most states have some form of protection for people who have bought hearing aids. Your audiologist or hearing aid dispenser should have informed you of these rights, but with so much information being thrown at you at once, it may have been lost in the shuffle.
Consumer protection laws have been set up to be a conduit between consumers and audiologist or hearing aid dispenser. The states manage this now through state laws and regulations administered by the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) through the Speech-Language and Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispenser Board (SLPAHADB). While other consumer protection organizations help to ensure safe food, drugs, water, and other materials. The SLPAHADB ensures that the hearing aid industry is regulated.
So consumers are protected to a degree. Not entirely though. Trial periods for hearing aids are not covered by the federal government (a common misconception). They are instead covered by state law. Finding information regarding your state laws can be tricky however, so your best resource is to contact the hearing aid and/or audiology licensure board or the Attorney General’s office for your state. Most states have a 30-day trial period where you can obtain at least a partial refund if you are unsatisfied with your purchase. Here is a listing by state of the protection laws, but be sure to verify these prior to your purchase. http://www.hearingloss.org/sites/default/files/docs/Consumer_Protection_Laws.pdf
Hearing aids may be sold with many differing conditions and guidelines
Hearing aids may be sold with many differing conditions and guidelines, some of those are listed here:
- 30 day warranty where aids can be returned for a partial refund. This should be specified in the purchase agreement when you are making your purchasing, including the amount to be refunded and the timeline for refund.
- Mail order and Internet sales of hearing aids. This is risky. Some states limit who can sell hearing aids in their state, but not all do. You will not get fitted and the hearing aids cannot be adjusted to you. Anyone considering this must consider this a high risk venture.
- Cancellation Rights are in place similar to the purchase of a home. You have the right to cancel for any reason by midnight of the 3rd business day after the contract was signed.
- Many states have advertising guidelines as well
Personally I believe that hearing aids are a great benefit, but adjusting to them is another story. The task of adjusting to the new noise is daunting and takes perseverance and dedication. Go back time and time again to have your hearing aids checked until they meet your requirements. Two or three times may not be enough. Sitting in a sound booth and listening is fine, but it doesn’t seem too annoying until you hit the street. Then the game is on.
I believe it takes much more than 30 days to adjust to hearing aids, and that individual motivation and persistence is the key. Your brain needs to learn how to hear again. I also recommend an audiological rehabilitation program if one is offered in your area. This counseling program will help you to learn the best techniques for listening and help you move out of bad habits. The key is to work with your audiologist, go back, do not stop seeing them. Keep scheduling appointments, if you are not satisfied, persist- go back to see the audiologist again.
Unfortunately, not all areas offer this type of rehabilitation. Some resources for adjusting to hearing aids are listed here:
All of the Tiny Ants
"I can hear everything now, every little thing, I mean, I can hear the ants marching across the kitchen floor!"
— Anonymous Research Participant
Where do I go to get my hearing checked?
Many times people ask me who should they see for a hearing check. My opinion is a board certified audiologist. Not a board certified hearing aid dispenser. Look for AuD after their name and board certified.
Also Medicare does not cover hearing aids. Medicaid may cover hearing aids, but the coverage depends on your state laws again. For information regarding your state’s laws go to: http://www.hearingloss.org/content/medicaid-regulations (scroll about 1/4 down the page for information for adults age 21 and older).
There is a federal tax credit available for the purchase of hearing aids. Currently there is a $1000 tax credit (as a deduction) for the purchase of two hearing aids. This is for dependents and adults over the age of 55 years. You can receive this credit once every 5 years. There is a $200,000/year income cap. https://www.hearingsol.com/faq/hearing-aids-tax-deductible/
Find a hearing loss professional: http://www.asha.org/findpro/
Share your hearing loss story here: http://www.asha.org/public/stories/
Funding sources for hearing aids: http://www.asha.org/public/coverage/audfundingresources/
Support for adults http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Support-Services-for-Adults/
Support for children http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Support-Services-for-Children/
Hearing Aid Testimonial
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This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2014 Kari Lane