help me convince my dad to get a hearing aid

My dad (in his mid-70’s) has substantial hearing loss. He’ll tell you it’s from his stint as a Navy pilot in the late 50’s when he flew multi-engine prop planes on transcontinental flights - but I’m pretty sure it’s got much more to do with the intervening decades of using power tools (table saws, wood routers, lawn mowers, chain saws, etc.) without any hearing protection. He has to listen to the TV at a volume that makes it unpleasant for others to be in the room, and the dynamics of conversation are weird. It’s easy enough to speak in a loud clear voice for him, but when you’re speaking to someone else at a normal volume, he can’t overhear very well and so it’s difficult for him to function as a third party in a casual bull session; mostly he just sits there minding his own business while you have this quiet conversation with someone else. The subtle dialog often seen in movies goes uncomprehended, and he tends to lose the plot; basically if we all decide to watch a movie, he’s just along for the ride. I’m not alone in these observations: my sister and my mom see the same thing.

I vaguely recall having suggested a hearing aid in the past, but he wasn’t interested. I don’t recall what his exact objection was, and I’m not sure he’s actually ever tried one. I have a great relationship with my folks - they recently visited for a weekend, and we spent most of the time engaged in conversation about all manner of things - and I am planning to write a carefully-worded email encouraging him to reconsider. Why didn’t I bring it up while they were here? Well, I’ve found that the written word is often better for these kinds of overtures, because I can spend time massaging the words for best effect before sending, and the recipient can read the message more than once, giving them time to think things through.

With that in mind, I’m looking for some info:

-What can I tell him to encourage him to see a doctor and get a hearing aid?

-What features are state-of-the-art these days on hearing aid?

-Do you or someone you know have a hearing aid? Like it? Glad you/they got it? Anything you/they would do differently?

-Did you or someone you know get a hearing and and then shitcan it? Why?

-My folks are of course on Medicare and also have supplemental insurance. Assuming they have good coverage, how much might he expect to pay out-of-pocket for a good quality hearing aid?

Thanks for any info/advice…

Well, good luck. It took fifteen freakin’ years of me, my hubby, and my MIL nagging before my FIL would get one!

His major objection (he’s 84, for reference) is that ‘hearing aids don’t actually do anything but amplify’. Of course, that’s no longer true, hasn’t been for years. But hey, he’s stubborn. He gets an idea like that set in his mind, and good luck changing it!

Another objection of his was the cost. They have medicare, but not supplemental.

But a couple of years ago, when FIL wanted to get a ‘reverse mortgage’ on their house, my MIL put a condition on signing. She would only sign the paperwork if he promised to use some of the money to get hearing aids!

He agreed. He got hearing aids. He’s very happy with them, and believe me, the rest of us are happy, too!

Don’t know how much he ended up paying, though.

I’m 41 (female, if that’s relevant) and have significant hearing loss from A) too many Indy car races and B) too many rock concerts. (Well, there is no such thing as too many of either of those, but I should have used ear plugs. I do now, but too late; damage is done.)

Anyway, my major hesitation is this: My stepmonster had hearing aids and she could never hear anything in a crowded place, like a restaurant. The hearing aids amplified evverything, so all she got was cacophony and couldn’t understand any more conversation than if she didn’t use her hearing aid at all. Are they still like this? Are there “smart” hearing aids?

I want to hear my friends talking to me. I’m sure I irritate the shit out of them by asking them to repeat themselves so often. Many of my male friends seem to have voices that are right in my deaf range, and if they are speaking in a low tone of voice, I can’t understand them at all. But I want the background noise filtered out somehow.

Also, please convince me that I will still be hot and desirable and sexy with a friggin’ hearing aid.

I am thinking that you could buy one of those cheapie hearing aids, like from Parade magazine, or something. Try it out yourself, and if it’s any good, say “Here, Pops, try this.” And if it works, voila!
Of course, he may stomp your guts out for calling him Pops, but, if he does, say “I thought you couldn’t hear! How did you know I called you Pops??? Take a hike, you phony!”

Best wishes,

My understanding is that the best results are achieved when you get a hearing test to identify which frequencies you have trouble hearing, and then get a hearing aid that is adjusted so as to amplify only those frequencies, and only by the amount required to restore apparently normal hearing perception - that is, when a constant-volume frequency sweep is played, your brain perceives each frequency at the same volume level. No doubt this costs more money than the cheapo off-the-shelf hearing aid, but also more likely to be kept and used, I would think.

I have had them for about ten years.
The cost today varies from about $1500 each to over $2000 each. Medicare and supplemental insurance won’t help with the cost. The VA might pay for them if he gets a service disability claim approved.

The new ones have some neat features like anti-feed back circuits (ant-squeal) that work much better than in years past.

They also break the audio range into a number of independent segments so that the gain can be better adjusted for each persons particular hearing loss using DSP (digital signal processing).
Normally two are required.

I have known a number of people that got and then wouldn’t wear them.
In many cases it is because they don’t listen to the instructions about how since you will hear sounds that you have not heard for years it will seem a little overpowering when you first start wearing them. The brain will adjust in time - anywhere from days to a month or more.

When I first got mine I started to ask my wife (sitting next to me) why she was rattling the damn newspaper so much, then remembered what I had been told.
It took about two weeks for my brain to adjust and then everything sounded okay and I could hear normally for the first time in many years.

If he does decide to get aids, a couple of points to consider.

The smaller the aid the more often the battery will have to be changed. Every three days or so for the hidden in the ear type to two to three weeks for the larger in the ear type and behind the ear type.

The new behind the ear units are small with a tiny tube that is hard to see going into the ear. They don’t require a mold of the ear. There is a small silicone plug on the end of the tube that fits into the ear. The fitting for these is fast and easy with no waiting for them to come from a factory.
In many cases the hearing can be tested and one can walk out with your new aids in an hour or so.

Yes, yes, yes, and yes!
This is what we finally convinced my FIL of, after he got his reverse mortgage! That hearing aids are no longer just 'in-the-ear-speaker-systems, but rather, amplify the ranges that you, specifically, need!

If there are, I might consider getting a pair for myself! I hate trying to have a conversation in a noisy environment.

I don’t know what convinced my father to get them, but my mother had to point them out. If your father’s problem is vanity, they make them nearly invisible these days.

Just the other day I saw a teenage girl with two behind-the-ear hearing aids. They were a bright electric blue to match her sparkly blue halter-top. She was hot & desirable & sexy in that underage way. I doubt she had any trouble getting noticed by boys her age. (Or pervs my age.)

Your personal mileage may vary, but I doubt a hearing aid is gonna be the make-or-break difference. When half of America is wearing a Bluetooth, a hearing aid just ain’t that weird any more. in terms of medical appliances, I think they’re a lot closer to eyeglasses than they are to colostomy bags. Which certainly wasn’t true 30 years ago.

A lot of people get them and then don’t wear them- I understand the figure is around 80%. (Don’t ask for a cite).

My dad is close to 90 and deaf as half a yard of pump water and wouldn’t wear one.

Good luck.

Well, I didn’t mean to make it the final solution. I meant for it to be a convincer, not the cure. If Pops noticed any improvement, child could say “See? Now, let’s get you to an audiologist.” The recommendation for the cheap one is so that a *minimal amount of cash *could be risked for an experiment.

Best wishes,

Is his inability to hear (except when you scream the same thing at him 3-5 times over) damaging your relationship with him?

I’m just guessing, but that’s what has happened with my dad and everyone else in the world because he’s been unable to hear normal conversational range for about 10-15 years. Nobody wants to talk to him because he refused to get a hearing aid, and insists that we repeatedly shout what we’ve said over and over until he gets it.

If your dad cares about having good relationships with his wife and kids, then maybe you could try telling him that it’s hard to be close to someone who can’t hear what you’re saying.

BTW, most of the damage was probably caused by flying. My sister came back from her time on an air craft carrier with permanent hearing damage at age 26.

I think you should start talking more and more quietly around him while gradually exaggerating your mouth movements.

To drive the point home, pay off your local firefighters and enlist their help in creating a mock fire with the full pyrotechnics and everyone whispering at the top of their lungs and you very quietly breaking down Pop’s (pre-cracked cardboard) door and panickedly mouthing “WE NEED TO GET OUT. NOW.”

At that point, the styrofoam roof comes crashing down on you and the rest of the family comes to get Pop and frantically mouths “Are you ok? Where’s Joe, Dad?! WHERE’S JOE?! We need to GO!” Uncontrolled mock sobbing will follow, then a bearded guy in a white robe will come out of the smoke and say “They tried to tell you but you wouldn’t listen” in a rather Biblical tone. “Or perhaps… you couldn’t?” Then he’d smile. “For those of you who’ve been reluctant to wear a hearing aid, Miracle Ear has great news!” And you, of course, would rise from the dead with a gift in hand, accompanied by a laser light show through the smoke and dramatic (and audible!) music. “No Medicare? No problem! We got you covered, Dad!”

Problem solved. That’d, or he’d disown you and try to shoot you, which would also be rather entertaining. Please be sure to YouTube either episode.

Try the cheap alternative first.

The hearing aid business is legally protected from normal market forces that would result in the price of their products becoming cheaper. Some folks need specific frequency boosts or cuts, but if he has normal age-related decline in hearing across all bands, it’s worth spending $150 to get one of these “game ears”. There are more expensive ones, and they accomplish the same task as some of the most expensive custom fitted hearing aids - boosting quiet sounds, cutting overly loud ones. Turns out the frequencies that cover the sound of a deer moving through the woods are the same range as a human being talking.

I had no idea these existed until I read a paper by an audiologist complaining about the hearing aid business in the USA. He was trying to import cheap hearing aids from Europe. He could buy these for $100 and supply them to his low-income patients. But the FDA would not allow him to do so. Like many other things in the US, the free market fails to deliver the best and cheapest solution. Looking around, he discovered the “game ear” device. He’s tested and unofficially fitted $100 “game ears” for many of his senior patients, and had better results than with hearing aids cost ten to twenty times as much.

Anyway, if he won’t wear them, at least you’ve only wasted the cost of a meal for for your family at a nice restaurant, rather than spending thousands.

From my link:

I have significant hearing loss. I cannot begin to tell you what a difference hearing aids has made in my quality of life.

Actually, I just did. Tell your old man to get off his ass and get the aids.

My most recent hearing aid has a clear chassis so you can see the hardware inside. Appeals to my inner geek. And before that, it was a bright purple Just Because.

I’ve never had a problem with people specifically being turned off by the hearing aid itself – people have told me that I’m attractive with or without one, so I wouldn’t worry about it being a problem. :slight_smile: (And if they do have a problem, then they need an attitude adjustment IMHO.)

If you are hot and desirable and sexy now, you will be hot and desirable and sexy with a hearing aid.

Lemme 'splain how this works via a joke Sampiro told here once:

Guy sits down next to a beautiful woman at a bar. They smile at each other and soon the guy asks if she has been there before. She says she hasn’t been anywhere for the last twenty years. He asks why. She says “I’ve been in prison.” He says “What for?” She says “I poisoned my husband.” The guy nods and then says: “So, you’re single then?”


“Hot” and “desirable” and “sexy” overcomes a lot. A hearing aid should be no problem.

You called? :smiley:
I’ve worn hearing aids since I was three, and love them…I also still get carded regularly.(and I have the bright purple BTEs with colored earmolds)
I really have no clue where the " hearing aids make you look old" meme came from.
Some words of advice…do not go to a Miricle Ear or a Beltone. Those places just sell hearing aids. You really need to go to a real audilogist. A good organizatin is Hearing Loss Association of America (which used to be SHHH)
Maybe take him to an audi and have him try on a hearing aid. The difference can be amazing. I still remember being a teen and an audi at MEEI had me try on a BTE, when I was in ITE (old person) aids The difference was amazing…(had chosen ITE aids for cosmetic issues)
Also, every hearing aid user is different. There’s no ONE RIGHT hearing aid for everyone. That said BTE aids tend to give a heck of a lot more power then the smaller aids. Also even thou digital aids are the new thing, analog aids can be really good for some people. You really have to try them out. Even two people with the same audiogram will respond differently to the same aid.

I know people who got hearing aids pretty much as soon as they qualified for one: they hear normally with the aid. They watch TV at normal volumes, speak at normal volumes, do not take offence if someone says something and they don’t get it, listen to music, etc. I plan on getting one myself when I start needing one: to me it’s no different from wearing glasses and I wish I had gotten those sooner than I did (“the tree! It has leaves!” - I’d thought treetops were just big balls and the leaves were these pieces that broke off).

I also know people who fought the aid as if it was going to bite them, don’t wear it most of the time… this second group, they may as well not have gotten it. Their TV is on at volumes which would get the cops called if their neighbors weren’t as deaf, they yell all the time, even with the aid on, etc.

The sooner your dad gets the aid, the better he’ll get used to it and the bigger a difference it will make, not just in the quality of his life but also in that of those surrounding him.

I have a pretty rich friend who bought very good ones. He wont wear them. He is hard of hearing but he claims the noises he hears are annoying.