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?