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Do You Hear What I Hear? Why Hearing Aids Matter

Do You Hear What I Hear? Why Hearing Aids Matter

| January 11, 2024

Do You Hear What I Hear? Why Hearing Aids Matter

     You develop good relationships with your clients and want to offer them information that make a difference in their lives, not just their portfolios. Have you ever thought to encourage them to have their hearing checked? It’s more important than they may realize, and you provide unique value by bringing it up.

     You may find clients initially resistant to the idea. There’s a perception in society that hearing loss, and especially the use of hearing aids, is a sure sign of advanced age and declining abilities. Unfortunately, that’s the opposite of the truth. Just as someone may need eyeglasses for vision at any age, hearing loss knows no age boundaries. And failing to get hearing aids quickly can create irreversible loss, while correcting hearing loss actually prevents aging, decline, and dementia.

     The facts: Neurons and synapses in the brain respond to stimuli. The frequencies we hear have unique neural pathways in the brain and whenever we hear a sound, that pathway gets reinforced. But if we stop hearing that sound, those neurons and synapses stop firing and the pathway gets diverted to other brain functions. In other words, if the brain stops hearing certain sounds or ranges of sound, over time it “forgets” HOW to hear that sound; it literally loses the pathway. And the longer the brain hasn’t heard a sound, the less likely that it will ever rebuild the ability to do so, even if it starts hearing those sounds again. So if your clients wait too long to address hearing loss, even the best hearing aid in the world can only do so much to restore their lost hearing. On the other hand, the sooner hearing aids correct a deficiency, the “younger” and more active that area of the brain stays.

     Finally, hearing loss is a major risk factor for developing dementia. A 2017 study found that hearing loss accounts for 8% of the prevalence of dementia, the largest effect of any “potentially modifiable” risk factor, including smoking, depression, and social isolation. Another study found that those with moderate to severe hearing loss had a 61% higher prevalence of dementia, and that hearing aid use was associated with a 32% reduction. While there are several different theories on the exact casual mechanism, it’s clear that addressing hearing loss is an easy, effective way to mitigate the risk for dementia.

    For all these reasons, it’s vital that you and your clients take hearing loss seriously, ignore any stigma around hearing aids, and get help before it’s too late. Thankfully, this is now easier than ever!

    In the past, an individual could only get hearing aids via a hearing health professional, but in October of 2022, the FDA authorized the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids that can be purchased directly by consumers. OTC hearing aids are not designed to address severe hearing loss, but they are significantly more affordable than prescription hearing aids and are sufficient for many users. One can even take a “hybrid” approach of purchasing OTC aids but then working with a hearing professional to get them finely tuned to one’s unique hearing needs. Here are two excellent overview of OTC hearing aids you can share with clients, including reviews and ratings:

  1. https://www.helpguide.org/handbook/hearing-aids/best-otc-hearing-aids
  2. https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-over-the-counter-hearing-aids