Sunday, February 22, 2015

5 Things I Learned From my Mother’s Audiologist

I recently accompanied my mom on her appointment with an audiologist to be fitted for new hearing aids.  My siblings and I have had many discussions as to which doctor appointments require one of us to attend and which do not.   Normally, accompaniment to an audiologist appointment wouldn’t be a necessity, but since my mom was to make a substantial prepayment on new hearing aids I decided to tag along.  I am so glad I did.  Here a few of the things I learned:

My mom can’t hear:
The audiologist had my mom remove her current hearing aids so she could test and clean them.  After she left the room, I began talking to my mom and quickly realized she was unable to hear a word I said.  She didn’t even acknowledge I was speaking. It was eye-opening to witness how severe my mom’s hearing loss actually is.

The cost of hearing aids are not covered by Medicare:
My mom has one year of medical benefits remaining on her retiree medical plan. This policy will contribute $2,000 towards the purchase of a pair of hearing aids. Her remaining out- of- pocket cost will be $1,900. Since hearing aids are not covered by Medicare, we decided she should purchase the hearing aids now.  

Hearing aid life expectancy is 5 to 7 years:
My mom’s current hearing aids are 7 years old.  One of them is cracked (she told me later she had tried to clean wax out of it with a needle and tweezers).  Also, hearing aid technologies have become quite sophisticated, they are now considered mini-computers.  With her advanced hearing loss she needs to take advantage of new technologies.

The bricks in hearing aid drying boxes need to be replaced every two-three months:
This was completely new to me:  My mom currently stores her hearing aids in a drying box when she’s not wearing them.  This box is equipped with drying bricks that absorb moisture from the interior of her hearing aids prolonging their life. The bricks eventually become saturated with moisture and need to be replaced – typically every two to three months.  My mom stopped replacing these bricks a couple of years ago in an effort to cut expenses.   

Hearing aids are just that – an aid:
According to the audiologist, the biggest misconceptions family members have when getting their loved one hearing aids is that they will restore hearing to normal levels or completely correct hearing loss.  Hearing aids are an AID to assist patients with hearing; hearing will not be 100% normal with hearing aids.  

There are additional devices included with the new hearing aids to assist with hearing.  One of my mom’s biggest complaints is not being able to hear during large family gatherings.  Her new Phonak Naida Q50 hearing aids come with a remote mic.  She can hand this mic, which is wirelessly connected to her hearing aids, to a person who is talking or place it in the center of the table.  She’s tried both, but her favorite use for the mic is to set it in front of her TV speakers so she no longer has to blast her TV.  In the past, she has received complaints from neighbors when she blares her TV after 9:00 p.m.  
In conclusion:

My mom is happy with her new hearing aids and her hearing has improved substantially.  Even my siblings noticed she doesn’t ask them to repeat themselves as often.  The cleaning system is easier- she no longer has to wipe off excess wax every morning. And it’s cheaper – her new drying box doesn’t require bricks. Getting the proper fit wasn’t easy. The mold in one of her hearing aids needed to be remade twice before it felt comfortable. Her only current complaint is a slight ringing tone in one of her ears.

As to what doctor’s appointments a family member should accompany her on, it appears all of them.  I find it interesting she choose not to replace the dryer bricks in an effort to cut costs.  A quick Google search indicates this decision saved her $40-60 a year.  If I would have known I'd have gladly purchased these for her.  I wonder what other cost-saving decisions she has made.
Do you accompany your parents on doctor appointments? If so, have you been surprised by something you have learned?

18 comments:

  1. I basically accompany mom my to all of her doctor appointments now. I started going with her when she was diagnosed with cancer. I used to go to only the cancer ones. But now she has me going to all of them with her as other issues have come up. It makes it easier on her but it is so hard on me. It is stressful and scary for both of us. I wish my brother (her step son but she raised him from age 2) would step up and help but after several conversations about it he has not. Oh well. I am thankful that I can be there to help her navigate everything. I know God is giving me the strength to do it.

    You are lucky that your siblings are deciding along with you which ones she support for. Keep working together.

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    1. Believe me - it is not always easy to get all of my siblings to take their turn. Then they make poor decisions like have my mom drive way out of her way to their home first. It does help all of us when one of us goes with her to all of her appointments. Not easy or fun, but necessary.

      I hope your mom is grateful. It sounds like you take good care of her. And boo to your brother; most likely he will never step up to the plate.

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  2. Thanks Savy. I learned something new today about hearing aids.

    As for my Mom? She doesn't need me to go with her to appointments. She has a boyfriend who is seven years younger and is fully capable of taking care of her.

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    1. Thanks for the comment Darlene. Also, great that your mom has someone to take care of her.

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  3. A really important post, Savvy! We all know a lot about glasses and braces, but virtually nothing about hearing aids. The last few weeks Mother lived, i learned a lot that would have been more helpful sooner.

    Fortunately, the aging boomer generation combined with changing chip technology will cause the technology to continue to expand and improve for years to come. And, we will be the lucky recipients of that change. Another important thing is to start checking sooner, and not wait until the deafness is too far advanced. Good job, Girl!

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    1. My mom has always embraced her hearing aids. Unlike my Grandma who refused to wear them and missed out on a lot of conversation.

      I think with the technology advances and our aging population some of the stigma of wearing hearing aids will go away too. At least I hope so.

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  4. Great information, Savvy. I learned a lot. My mother's hearing is still pretty good. My local sister or I usually accompany her to the doc if she's not feeling well, but for the most part, she goes on her own for regular appointments. An extra pair of ears (no puns intended) to hear what the doctor(s) say is very important. Thanks for sharing this info.

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    1. You are welcome. It is great you and your sister both attend appointments when she is not feeling well. Good luck to you.

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  5. Very important information especially if you use your Ipods or other electronic devices when you exercise. It is a wake up call to turn down the music. My mom needs a hearing aid but won't get one because she thinks they are ugly. #wowlinkup

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    1. Turning down the music is a great tip most of us don't think about when we are young. I also noticed the music at my gym is sometimes too loud. I understand they want us to feel energized, but seriously sometimes do they need to blast it. I am glad my mom is just happy to hear better and isn't concerned with how the hearing aids look. Plus, they've made progress in looking more stylish. My mom had several colors to choose from.

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  6. This is very interesting. My family is dealing with my grandmother's hearing loss and her need to get hearing aids...

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    1. It is hard. Hope it works out okay.

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  7. I never knew this about hearing aids. Very interesting information. #wowlinkup

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  8. My mother has hearing aids, so I'm glad to read this!

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    1. Thanks Emily. I hope it was helpful.

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  9. This is so interesting. I never knew that hearing aids were only good for a few years or that Medicaid did not cover them #wowlinkup

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