June 01, 2013

Hearing aid technology

Less seen, more heard

Hearing aid technology

You always enjoy dining with friends at lively restaurants with conversation, music and lots of laughter. Lately, you've found it increasingly difficult to keep up with the conversation, and you hate to ask people to repeat themselves.

Hearing loss can be frustrating. For many, the thought of using hearing aids seems almost as bad as the hearing loss itself. It's estimated that less than half of older adults who could benefit from hearing aids wear them.

There are several reasons for this. Cost is important, as hearing aids aren't covered by Medicare and may not be covered by a private medical plan. Perhaps equally important is the stigmatization people believe will occur if they wear hearing aids, and a belief that hearing aids won't help much.

Many older adults don't appreciate how advanced hearing aid technology has become, with near-constant improvements being made. They're better at amplifying sounds that you want to hear — and reducing unwanted sounds and feedback.

Contrary to being a stigma, hearing aids can greatly enhance your social interactions and help you maintain your independence and enjoyment of life.

How they work

The fundamental purpose of all hearing aids is to make sounds louder, and thus more audible. They start by collecting sounds from the environment through small microphones. Next, a computer chip converts the incoming sound into digital code. Hearing aids analyze and adjust the sound based on your hearing loss, listening needs and the level of the sounds around you. The signals are...