The 411 on Hearing Loss in Older Adults

<img src="roxannbonta.png" alt="Roxann Bonta">This Week on Sage Aging

According to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders: About 2% of adults aged 45 to 54 have disabling hearing loss. The rate increases to 8.5% for adults aged 55 to 64. Nearly 25% of those aged 65 to 74 and 50% of those who are 75 and older have disabling hearing loss.

Hearing loss can have far-reaching effects on individuals and their families. Signs of hearing loss are sometimes easy to miss, but it’s important to be aware of them and not ignore them when we notice they are there. This episode is packed with great information. Listen here or find the transcript at the bottom of the page.

My Guest

My guest for episode 46 is Roxann Bonta, President, and CEO of Central FL Speech and Hearing Center. Roxann has spent the past 43 years helping people hear and communicate their best and in this episode, she gave us the 411 about hearing loss in older adults. Listen to episode 46 here or scroll to the bottom of this page for the full transcript.

The Biggest Takeaways
Links & Resources
Suggested Reading

HowExpert Guide to Hearing Loss <img src="hearinglossbook.jpg" alt="HowExpert Guide">is a go-to guide for all things hearing loss. Author, Christine Anderson, AuD, an expert in the field, informs readers about everything from understanding hearing loss and hearing technology to the best ways to communicate with your loved ones in difficult listening situations.
This guide is rich in tips and tricks for hearing loss and understanding what can help after diagnosis. Find this and other titles here.

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Transcript

The 411 on Hearing Loss

SPEAKERS

Roxann Bonta, Liz Craven

 

Liz Craven  00:00

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Liz Craven  00:21

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Liz Craven  01:16

Welcome to the sage aging podcast. I’m your host Liz Craven Sage aging will connect you to information and resources that will empower you to master the aging and caregiving journey. Weekly, I’ll bring you education, inspiration, amazing industry guests and caregiver spotlights to shed some light on topics of aging. There’ll even be some freebies and giveaways too. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and relax as we chat. Are you ready? Hit subscribe now. And let’s get started.

 

Liz Craven  01:53

Hello, and welcome to the sage aging podcast. This is Episode 49. Have you ever seen that meme online of the three older men walking on the beach? And the first guy says it’s windy today? And one of the friends says no, it’s Thursday. And then the third guy says so am I, let’s have a beer. You know, it makes me chuckle every time I see that. But as funny as that is when we’re feeling silly. The reality of that situation is not funny at all. We’re talking about hearing loss today. Now here are a few stats just to kind of frame this up for you. According to the National Institute on Deafness and other communication disorders, about 2% of adults aged 45 to 54 have disabling hearing loss. That rate increases to eight and a half percent for adults aged 55 to 60 for nearly 25% of those aged 65 to 74. And 50% of those who are 75 and older have disabling hearing loss. Now, signs of hearing loss are sometimes easy to miss. But it’s important to be aware of them and not ignore them when we notice they’re there. I hope you’re ready to learn something about hearing loss today because we have got a pro in the house. My guest today is Roxanne Bonta. She’s the president and CEO of Central Florida Speech and Hearing Center. Roxanne has spent the last 43 years helping people hear and communicate their best and today she’s going to clue us in on some things that we need to watch for, and things we need to know about hearing loss. Welcome to the show. Roxanne thanks for joining me. Oh,

 

Roxann Bonta  03:45

thank you so much. I was just chuckling a little bit as you were doing the introduction. Because you know, when I used to talk to people about hearing loss, I would talk about my grandparents. And I started talking about my parents. And now I would be talking about myself.

 

Liz Craven  04:04

That’s kind of how it goes. We see ourselves walking down this road and and I chuckle to myself about lots of things these days.

 

Roxann Bonta  04:15

It’s true, you know, I am one of the 40 million people in the United States that has a hearing loss. It’s a huge, almost epidemic. That’s one of those silent things that people don’t know about. Or if they do know about it, they don’t know that it’s affecting them and what it can do to their overall health.

 

Liz Craven  04:37

I would so agree with that. And you know, I like to set the stage for each conversation with a quote and today’s quote, I’m sure you have used it and heard it a million times. It’s from Helen Keller, and she said blindness cuts us off from things but deafness cuts us off from people and after the last year. We’ve had that quote really reads in a much different way for me than it did before. And it speaks to the effects of isolation on people of all ages, but especially older adults. And that, my friends, is why today’s conversation is so very important. How does that speak to you Roxanne?

 

Roxann Bonta  05:21

Well, we are seeing more and more people that because of the COVID pandemic are being cut off, and not just in the ways that we normally would think of. But there’s a lot of different ways that we compensate when we’re face to face with people and have a hearing loss. But now that we can’t, and we’re doing more electronic communications, we miss many of those things that we rely on, we miss the visual cues, often, we miss all of the sounds around you. And we also miss a lot of body language that helps people who have a hearing loss, understand what’s being said, you know, people say, Oh, I don’t lip read. But guess what we all lip read. That’s what helps us when we’re in a really noisy environment to continue to talk to the people around us, is we’re watching. So we think of hearing as only being our ears. But truly, it’s much more than that. It’s a very complex process. Hearing is very much like depth perception with your eyes. A lot of things have to happen for you to hear people and hear them clearly. It’s not about loudness. It’s about clarity. So as we talk about different things, and what you can do, if you have a hearing loss, we’re going to talk a little bit about making sure that people hear clearly.

 

Liz Craven  06:57

This is such an important conversation, and I can’t wait to get into all of the goods. But first, I would really like to talk a little bit about you tell us about you and your background. And how did you find your way into this career path?

 

Roxann Bonta  07:14

Well it’s a little bit of a funny story. I was an undergraduate, with a math and science background. And I thought, well, what can I do with that and went to the career guidance counselor, and opened up one of those catalogs and went, Oh, audiology, that sounds interesting. And I guess, as they say, the rest was history. Then I transferred to Michigan State University and finished up my undergrad and then went to Central Michigan University and received my graduate degree in audiology. But I’m a perpetual student. So I’m always reading and watching and looking for improvements that are happening in hearing and in audiology, and certainly over the last 40, I hate to even say that things have changed a lot. And then some things haven’t changed at all.

 

Liz Craven  08:18

That’s a very interesting, I can’t wait to hear what those are.

 

Roxann Bonta  08:24

Well, the one thing that strikes me and this goes back to your gentlemen walking on the beach, is that people find it very hard to admit that they have a hearing loss. Hearing loss happens to us all. And I always say, you know, after age 18, it’s downhill from there. But most people experience a gradual hearing loss. And they make adjustments to compensate. So they don’t even know that they have a hearing loss. Like I said before, they’re looking, they’re watching body language, and all those kinds of things. And our brain is pretty amazing. Because you can just hear part of a word and if you know the conversation, your brain fills it in and tells you what it is. And so you think you’ve heard it when in fact, the stimulation to your ears isn’t even really complete. So that’s how complicated hearing is.

 

Liz Craven  09:27

It is complicated. And you know, interestingly, what you just described, I saw a graphic online, and it was a picture and it had a sentence. And I think it said something to the effect of this is what it looks like to someone with hearing loss. And it had taken an eraser and erased through just kind of scribbled and erased line through the text. And I thought oh my goodness, that is such a great illustration. You know, just as if we were to hold our hand over part of the text that someone was trying to read that’s what you just described for someone who has hearing loss.

 

Roxann Bonta  10:09

And typically our high frequency hearing goes first and so that’s why as you grow older and you have grandchildren you have more difficulty hearing those children because their voices are higher pitch and the reason that we need to hear all of the sounds of a person’s voice is because there’s some very important distinctions but very minor distinctions that make one word different from another word and so as we grow up as your grandchildren get older they’ll become easier to hear because their voices will become more low frequency and in fact you’ll get more pieces less as you say will be erased so that’s very important and those high frequencies give us the consonants of speech that makes the difference between a dog and a tog and those are so important for the english language and to know what word is being actually said and what the meaning is the other thing that happens is hearing loss is invisible so i always say to people unlike your eyes when you can’t see something and you’re in the car somebody reads a sign and you go you could see that from here yes but because you’re hearing there’s no markers for it people don’t go didn’t you hear that well it’s just whizzed by your ears there was nothing coming into you so that you would know that something happened unless someone around you says didn’t you hear that and that is another big issue with hearing loss it’s noticed by the people around you much sooner than it’s noticed by you and it can be a very difficult situation and causes many problems within relationships more than we’d like to admit because tempers flare and oftentimes this is between people who are living together a husband and a wife typically because the wife’s voice is more high pitch there’s less information sometimes that reaches their partner and she will think he never listens to me but when his friends talk to him he knows everything they’ve said oh boy but when i talk to him he doesn’t know what i’ve said so he’s not paying attention to me and then their feelings are hurt when in fact the guy’s voice is lower chances are he’s getting more of the information in the conversation than he is when his wife is is talking when i first graduated i worked with an ear nose and throat physician and he used to use the best example that i’d like to share with you he said a husband and wife are in watching television the news in the early evening and you know somebody has some externs to grow and they decide it’s time for dinner so i’m going to say this is the stereo type of what could happen but the wife says i’m going to go out and make dinner while she goes out and she’s in the kitchen and she’s making dinner and she’s making hamburgers so the aroma of the hamburgers are there and all of that and so when she calls out honey come to dinner he has all these other cues around him they’ve already talked about it he smelled the cookie she said something it’s time to go to the table but after dinner when she says out of the blue honey go take the trash out and he doesn’t know that’s what she said and again it’s that confusion it’s like well why when i asked him to do something for me he didn’t do it but he heard me call him to dinner so it can be very misleading and hurtful to many people when they can’t be understood or heard.

 

Liz Craven  14:46

It sounds like the emotional side of it might even be harder on partners and those close to an individual with hearing loss than the individual themselves.

 

Roxann Bonta  14:59

It is. It starts that way as it goes on then it begins to become worse for the people who actually have the hearing loss right one of the big things that the national council on aging found is that when you do something about a hearing loss your interpersonal relationships with your family improve.

 

Roxann Bonta  15:24

So that tells us that a hearing loss takes a big toll on your relationships or people around you

 

Liz Craven  15:34

That makes an awful lot of sense and it would seem that it probably has some ill effects on the rest of your life too so we know relationships are going to suffer if you leave your hearing loss untreated that’s just something that will be a given what other things should people be looking for what other ill effects are there as it relates to hearing loss that is left untreated

 

Roxann Bonta  16:00

Well, you develop compensation behaviors and you will notice with some people who have a hearing loss that you can tell they have a hearing loss they’re difficult to have a conversation with not because they’re not hearing you but because they’re monopolizing the conversation remember how i told you when you know what somebody is doing and talking about your brain can fill in parts that you might not hear so in order to and i use in quotes hear better or be able to carry on that conversation the person with the hearing loss controls the conversation so they talk about all the things they want to talk about and that presents them oftentimes as unfeeling uncaring and frankly a bore with it’s only what they want to talk about but in fact the reason they’re doing it is so that they can have a conversation we see with grandparents and grandchildren the grandchildren people he doesn’t really care about me or she doesn’t they’re just interested in telling me old stories well it’s because those old stories have information that can be talked about that they can fill in the blanks even though they can hear the other person that’s engaging with them so the other thing that we see when people have a hearing loss and again this isn’t a severe hearing loss this can be a very minor hearing loss and these things happen is that there’s a lot more anger and frustration by the person who has the hearing loss and by the people around the person because going back to the you don’t pay attention to me but you listen to all your friends and then the opposite occurs you don’t speak up you know you need to turn and look at me well you can’t carry on a life of communication by always having to raise your voice or turn around and talk directly to someone communication doesn’t work that way and so what happens is people are cut off by other people or they cut themselves off because they don’t like this negative interaction.

 

Liz Craven  18:22

It’s just easier

 

Roxann Bonta  18:23

Yes so what happens is we see people with even a mild hearing loss have depression and so that is a big thing for people to check if you’re feeling blue and all that make sure that you’ve had a hearing test and that you haven’t been pulling back not because of COVID but just because you don’t hear so well on the phone when you’re facetiming or zooming you’re having trouble because you can’t see everybody’s faces when you’re in a group so mark that because it does have a very depressive aspect to it and you’ll feel not okay you’ll feel cut off

 

Liz Craven  19:12

Right. I would think that a person who is experiencing hearing loss but isn’t quite aware of it yet would also feel tired because how hard would you have to work if you’re trying to compensate. I know personally when I’m looking at a computer screen if my readers are not nearby I’m gonna be really tired after that time on the computer because I’m straining to see what i’m looking at

 

Roxann Bonta  19:40

Absolutely, and that’s one of the first signs that things that we ask people when they’re getting their hearing tested or you know do you notice that you’re very tired i’m usually tired and things like that and it is exhausting because the more your brain has to work the tired are you get the brain used is more calories than anything else. So that’s just a natural progression of having to focus more and pay more attention. And again, at a certain point, you just give up, you know, some people go, Well, I’ll do something in the morning, but boy, if it goes in the afternoon, I can’t spend a whole day with you, or things like that. So that’s a little scary. And when you do things like that, then people, they actually discriminate against people with a hearing loss. And I know we talk a lot about this, but discrimination is would be like avoiding them. You know, oh, I’m not going to lunch with you. Because you’re too hard to talk to. You never know what the waitress is saying. You are asking me to be your ears. That can be very frustrating.

 

Liz Craven  20:55

Oh, that’s so heartbreaking.

 

Roxann Bonta  20:57

Yes. When somebody says, Well, what did she say? And the waitress has said, Well, what would you like to drink? And, and they sit there and they have no answer, then the other person is kind of elbowed and what do you want to drink? So it sets up an unhealthy relationship with the people that you’re out and about with or going to the movies, I’m sure we’ve all been to the movies where somebody keeps leaning over to a person beside them saying, What did what did they say, you know, and that’s stressful.

 

Liz Craven  21:29

It’s very stressful on both people, and it’s stressful and on the people around them. So that brings up such a great point. Given that we know these things are going to happen if you’re experiencing hearing loss, what are some things that you could do to minimize that kind of stress on people that you’re out and about with interacting with? And on your family? Are there things that you can do in how you communicate? Or are there tools you can use? Absolutely. One of the basic things that we work with our amplified telephones, because we want to make sure that you can communicate if you have a hearing loss over the phone. And you know, we’re so lucky to live in the state of Florida, because there’s a state funded program that allows people who have a documented hearing loss, and our residents of Florida get a free amplified phone, and it can even be a cell phone.

 

Roxann Bonta  22:33

So that’s available to people. And that’s the first step of moving forward. Because that’s so important. A little aside, when our county was calling people to give them their vaccination appointments. I got a call, they said, what do we do if they have a hearing loss. And you know what, there’s not a darn thing that can be done by the other person, this is one of the few times that another person around you can’t compensate and make up for your hearing loss. So unfortunately, I had nothing to give them if people are completely deaf, there are special phones available TTYs, that actually type out. And there were exchanges where a person who’s calling a deaf person can speak to a hearing person, and the hearing person types it out and it shows for the deaf person. But that is you mentioned in the very beginning this a small number. But there are a lot of people who struggle with telephone, who that may be their biggest thing, they can turn their TV up loud enough to compensate. But they can’t do anything about their phones. So that’s the first thing we say. Then another thing is everybody over age 55 should have a hearing loss or a hearing loss, a hearing test. So that there’s a baseline just like everything else we do to ensure that we’re having a healthy life, a baseline hearing screening or hearing test should be included in that. And then if there are any changes, we know and we can do something about it, right? You know, as we grow older, we’re all it seems on a lot more medication, we have a lot of other things going on.

 

Roxann Bonta  24:29

And many of the medications that we need for one thing or the other can affect our hearing. So that’s another reason when you’re around 55 to have a baseline so these things can be tracked.

 

Liz Craven  24:43

And are there things that can be done if someone begins to experience hearing loss to minimize that loss? In other words, is having that checkup a good preventive measure.

 

Roxann Bonta  24:58

Well preventative only In that we can guide you into some of the things that make for better communication. Sure, like when you’re out in a restaurant, and it’s noisy, to not sit in the middle of the room, but to sit back closer to a wall, and to sit across from the people that you want to hear instead of beside them in a booth, because you’re not going to be able to see them clearly. So there’s things like that, that we can help with. And if it were because of disease process, or medication, we can communicate with the physician and talk about what other alternatives there might be, there might be another medication that’s equally as effective for that disease that doesn’t have the detrimental effect on your hearing. So that’s a big part of what we do is an audiologist typically looks at the big picture, what things can be done to help this person in total, keep a full and happy life. And the important thing there is what may be a full and happy life to me is going to be different than someone else. Some people are out and about with a lot more people. And so their needs of their hearing and their communication are much higher and more complex. Some people stay home most of the time, and they have one or two people in their home at a time for conversations. And so the needs there are different. And the reason I point that out, is because one of the things that we can do to help someone even with a mild hearing loss is fit them with hearing aids. And unfortunately, hearing aids have this bum rap. That if you were hearing aids, it means you’re getting old. And but you know what? It used to be like that for glasses. And now everybody’s got several pairs. So we’re Whoa, I know I do. Yes, me too. And I hope they look good with the outfit I’m wearing that day. But hearing aids are for old people, people of all ages need some assistance. One of the reasons that I think that people need to kind of sit up and listen a little bit about doing something is because not doing anything about your hearing loss affects your overall health.

 

Liz Craven  27:42

Yes,

 

Roxann Bonta  27:43

You can have high blood pressure, it affects diabetes, it makes you more likely to fall, and all those kinds of things. So it’s not just like, Oh, I don’t need to hear or I don’t need to hear what people are saying. It also helps with pain reduction, which is pretty interesting.

 

Liz Craven  28:07

That is interesting. How so?

 

Roxann Bonta  28:09

Well, part of it is what your brain is busy with hearing is one of your primary senses. So your brain will focus on helping you hear because hearing kept you safe when we were primitive beings. Okay, so if I have a hearing loss, and I don’t address it, my brain will use more and more power to hear it will use more parts of my brain. So I might not be able to help suppress pain, or do activities that would help suppress the pain or make it less noticeable. So that’s a big deal.

 

Liz Craven  28:59

That is a big deal. You know, I’ve also heard about studies that are being done that link hearing loss to dementia as well.

 

Roxann Bonta  29:09

Absolutely. And it goes right back to the brain. Because your actual hearing doesn’t occur in your ear. That sounds a little crazy, I know. But your ear is like a mechanism on an electric guitar. The ear picks up the sound. But for it to be heard. It’s a two sided brain process. So again, when you’re not stimulating the brain and there’s so many things out now about you know, doing crosswords and doing puzzles and all that to keep your brain stimulated. Well, one of the key things is keeping it stimulated with the sounds around you. And if you don’t, it’s just like when you don’t move your arm pretty soon that muscle gets pretty soft and squishy. And you’re not able to. And that’s what happens with the brain, you’re not using that essential part of your brain and that complex process that happens between both ears, and then it can’t do it anymore.

 

Liz Craven  30:15

That’s so fascinating. So then, are there specific exercises, I guess we’ll call them activities that people could engage in to keep their hearing mechanism healthy?

 

Roxann Bonta  30:29

Well, the biggest thing is just to make sure that sound is being introduced to your brain. And the best way we know to do that, of course, it’s wonderful to listen to music and to go to concerts and things. But if all the sounds aren’t being delivered, then it doesn’t have the positive effect that we would like. So the biggest thing is using a technology to enhance your hearing where you may have places that you’re not hearing or sounds that you’re not hearing. And a lot of this goes back to wearing hearing aids. And there’s so many great things to that. Now, you could do with your phone, you know, with hearing aids, and that makes it easier to cut out background noise, we there’s Bluetooth, right from your phone right into your hearing aids, which is a big help for a lot of people, because then they don’t need to hear all the noise around them. That makes it more difficult, again, to understand people. But the biggest thing to do is to keep hearing.

 

Liz Craven  31:37

So okay, I’ve got a question for you. Because we all love Amazon, right? We go on Amazon. And we like to find all those kooky little gadgets and fun things that we can discover and try. Are any of those things that we see promoted there and on, you know, all of the commercials we see on TV that are truly effective for people who are experiencing hearing loss, or are we just throwing our money down the tube?

 

Roxann Bonta  32:08

Well, I love that question. And I’m probably going to give you an answer that some people, particularly if they sell hearing aids don’t like. But the some of those things really do help. Matter of fact, sometimes we don’t recommend hearing aids, we recommend what was called we call it a pocket talker. So it has like a little headphone or earphones, and you have a little mechanism you can wear that picks up sound and delivers them to your ear. If you have a very mild hearing loss, just about anything would help. And truly, the earlier you start, the better you’re going to be. So some of those devices help they’re set, you know, our field is starting to look at it as well as the FDA is starting to look at devices that are coined as over the counter. In places like CVS, and Walgreens and different stores have started to carry some of them, I’m a little bit more skeptical about some of them that are on TV. But if you have a very mild hearing loss, wearing something like that is probably enough. And what I would do is I would look for something particularly like with Amazon, if you don’t like it, you can return it true. And I would venture into it. You know, if your hearing loss is such that you get a little help from something like that, it probably is going to give you a prediction of how you would perform if you got a lot more help. And then some people again, with a very mild hearing loss, which we all get can work perfectly fine with something that’s much less expensive and more generic.

 

Liz Craven  34:04

Well, this is going to send me to Amazon just out of curiosity to look and see what’s there. So if you’re not signed up for our newsletter, folks, go to Sage aging, calm and go to the bottom and put your email address in because I’m going to go on a treasure hunt and I will share what I find with you in that newsletter coming up that comes out the same day as the podcast. Excellent.

 

Roxann Bonta  34:29

But I do caution people about buying hearing aids things that are really classified as hearing aids in that manner.

 

Liz Craven  34:38

Well, let’s talk more about hearing aids. I want to know about what to look for when you’re purchasing maybe what questions to ask and also I want to know what’s covered by insurance and how do people typically pay for hearing devices?

 

Roxann Bonta  34:56

Well, hearing aids are a little difficult sometimes as a lay person to get a handle on and i could see where the confusion is one of the things prior to going and looking for hearing aids is examine yourself as far as what are your needs because that’s not something that people can get except by asking you questions right let’s just say this you and i have the same identical hearing loss you and i may not need the same devices and that’s where people don’t understand because let’s just say i’m retired i am an introvert i am happy playing with my dog and i have a girlfriend that comes over and we chat all the time and whatever i need some help with her but i don’t go to the movie theater i don’t go out into a lot of big crowds very often so i don’t need a hearing aid that sings and dances and takes the trash out you know i need something basic that’s  going to just deliver the sounds that i have a deficit to my ears and i don’t need a lot of fancy technology and why i’m saying this is because that’s where the price points are if i have a relaxed lifestyle then i don’t have a lot of what we would call high communication needs then i don’t need to buy the most expensive hearing aids out there to find satisfaction with them

 

Liz Craven  36:49

Right

 

Roxann Bonta  36:50

Now me, because i’m in a lot of groups and i’m out and about and i’m speaking to people and going places where there’s a lot of noise i need a lot of technology and that’s when the price increases so it’s not about fitting to my audiogram which is a picture that we get when we give you a hearing test we check your right ear and your left ear and look for where you are having a hearing loss because there’s some things that can be medically treatable and an audiologist will send you to have those things treated that is where the price points are as far as hearing aids and that’s why people when they go in have i have heard several people that are like why are you asking me all this stuff you know and i’m thinking in their head they’re going boy are you in noisy a nosey parker you know but it truly isn’t it’s like getting an idea of what do you need before we just go well this hearing loss and you need the most expensive thing we have so that’s one way that you can help your audiologist in finding the right technology for you because truly it’s amazing and the other day i talked to someone who actually is an audiologist herself and she was fit with new hearing aids and she said this is like not even wearing hearing aids now that’s how much better they’ve gotten over the last six years since i’ve been wearing hearing aids and that’s what you have to be ready for as well you have to be ready for the fact that technology is moving so quickly that every couple years you might want to get something better and there are all sorts of programs out there now that make it easier you know there’s financing through like care credit and wells fargo and things like that but there’s also now leasing programs for hearing aids.

 

Liz Craven  38:55

Oh that’s interesting

 

Roxann Bonta  38:56

So you can lease it for like three years and give it back and get new ones very much like leasing a car.

 

Liz Craven  39:06

That’s really nice because as technology does make improvements you’re not going to be left behind because you can’t afford to upgrade

 

Roxann Bonta  39:15

Exactly i think it’s amazing it’s something new that it’s about time then it came along because people can’t be expected to continue to pay for it and just put the other ones in the drawer

 

Liz Craven  39:31

Do insurance companies pay for hearing devices?

 

Roxann Bonta  39:35

They do and that’s another major confusion you know first let me clarify that medic care does not pay for hearing aids. Medicare pays for a hearing test with an audiologist if there is the potential of a medical problem but not For the purpose of fitting a hearing aid, hmm. So it gets a little complicated right off the get go.

 

Liz Craven  40:07

All right.

 

Roxann Bonta  40:09

And then there are other insurance companies that do cover the purchase of hearing aids, and they’re all over the place. One of the things that, when I’m watching television I go a little nuts about at home, is when all these Medicare supplement plans, say, and you get vision, and you get hearing, and you get, well, you know what, like anything else, if it’s sounds too good to be true, it is,

 

Liz Craven  40:40

Right.

 

Roxann Bonta  40:41

Because unfortunately, one of the things that we have seen with some plans, and I’m not saying that all insurance plans are not good, because some of them are fantastic, they pay for 50% of the hearing aids, we rarely see that 100% are covered, if it’s not something that’s happened as a car accident or disease process or something like better, something that’s happened on the worksite. But they say you get benefits. But it’s a little tricky, because what you actually do is you buy the hearing aids from somebody else, not the person in your community. So someone else somewhere else that says that you get a discount, like $250 off. But like anything else, what we’re seeing is are some people that are taking advantage. So they’re marking up the hearing aids, and then giving $250 off. And in our experience, they could find those same hearing aids locally, for less and not use their insurance. And that’s so disheartening. Because I think some people believe, well, I paid for it, it’s my insurance, I have to use it. Know, where, wherever you go to purchase hearing aids, ask the questions. You know, what is the best price I can get from you? If I don’t use my insurance? If I give you cash, some places will give you a cash discount. There’s all sorts of ways to get help

 

Liz Craven  42:40

Be a smart consumer.

 

Roxann Bonta  42:42

Yes, absolutely.

 

Liz Craven  42:45

Hmm. Those are all really great points and things that I think a lot of people probably don’t think of, I think when you’re looking for something like this, and when you’re dealing with a situation, you’re so focused on the situation itself, and we’ve been trained as a society to go through certain processes, haven’t we? Okay, so you have your insurance. And this is what you do next, and you do exactly what they tell you to do. We respect that authority, especially the older generations, if somebody tells them to do something, that’s exactly what they’re going to do. And they have to learn to ask more questions. And I’m so happy that you brought that point up. Yes. And another question.

 

Roxann Bonta  43:27

I would make sure and have people ask as a wise consumer is, if I receive my hearing aid from you, but I purchased it through somebody else, what if something goes wrong? Because in many cases, the person or the audiologist may just be giving you the hearing aid and showing you how to use it, but your local person is not being paid to help you. Other than that, and all the profit is going to whatever that company was

 

Liz Craven  44:01

All good questions.

 

Roxann Bonta  44:03

Yes, yes. important to know.

 

Liz Craven  44:06

Absolutely. One more thing I’m curious about is how many people that you encounter have ringing in the ears? Is that a pretty common hearing problem?

 

Roxann Bonta  44:18

It is. And most often, ringing in the ears is a sign of hearing loss. Got it? It doesn’t always have to be. But what we find is that when people do wear amplification, or hearing aids, that the environmental sounds around are brought back. And so the ringing may always be there but it’s not being heard by the brain covers that up. So we always try to tell people that that’s the experience that they can expect. Now some people have severe tinnitus and have no hearing Hearing loss. They’re rare, but it does happen. And for those kind of cases, there’s actually something that looks like a hearing aid. But that will put in different noises into the ear to help stimulate it and the brain to help cancel out. The ringing.

 

Liz Craven  45:21

That’s fascinating.

 

Roxann Bonta  45:23

So there’s a lot of different things about your ears that most people don’t even know that we can help with.

 

Liz Craven  45:29

Oh, boy. Well, that is information overload for all of you, isn’t it? We I think we probably could do another full episode on this. Is there anything that is a must cover for this episode that we’ve left out?

 

Roxann Bonta  45:46

I think the biggest thing is don’t shy away from getting your hearing screened, keep track of it. And then you can make an informed decision. And be aware of how it might affect your life, your health, and your happiness with other people. Well, that

 

Liz Craven  46:05

is a fantastic piece of sage advice, and I think a great way to close our conversation. Roxanne, thank you so much for being with me today. I really appreciate all of your knowledge and wisdom and appreciate that you took the time to share with us.

 

Roxann Bonta  46:21

It was my pleasure, thank you, because the more people who know, the more happy people we’re going to have in our community

 

Liz Craven  46:29

100%. And thank all of you for listening, you know, being aware of and sensitive to the challenges that someone with hearing loss faces that will go a long way in creating more positive everyday scenarios. And like anything else, the more we talk about things and the more awareness we create, the better off everyone is. So whether or not hearing loss is a personal struggle for you or for someone you love. It’s something you do need to be aware of. Did you know that you can get the sage aging podcast sent to your inbox I mentioned that a little bit earlier. If you want to see what the results of that treasure hunt that I’m going to go on are you’ll want to go to Sage aging comm scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and you can put your email address in there, we’ll send you a weekly newsletter. That’s the day that the podcast comes out, you’re going to get it right in your inbox. You won’t have to go looking for it. And we include some other goodies in there too. Some other great information. And I’d love to connect with you on social media. Look for Sage aging on Instagram, Facebook, and you can find me Liz Craven on LinkedIn. And if you’re enjoying the podcast and would like to participate in other conversations just like this, join me on clubhouse there. I’m hosting weekly live rooms where you can learn ask your questions and network with other people. If you want to learn more about that drop me a line at info at Sage aging calm and I’ll fill you in. It’s basically a brand new social app in there. It doesn’t cost you anything but it’s a really cool tool for us to be able to talk to one another in real time. Check back next week for another new episode. And thanks again for listening friends. We’ll talk real soon