ASK THE DOCTOR: My Dad Can’t Hear Well And Won’t Try Hearing Aids. What Can I Do To Help Him?

Dear Doctors:

My dad is 77 years old, and despite the fact he’s losing his hearing, he won’t use a hearing aid. I’m told this can be common in older adults. Talking to him about hearing loss and its health impacts have not been effective. Do you have any suggestions?

Dear Reader:

You’re facing a challenge that is unfortunately quite common amongst adult children who help care for their older parents. It is estimated that more than 50% of adults 75 years of age and older are living with significant hearing loss. Most would benefit from using a hearing aid, and yet the data show that fewer than one-third use them. One of the primary reasons for this is the stigma. Wearing a hearing aid is often perceived as a sign of old age and a loss of physical and mental acuity. The high cost of the devices also contribute to low uptake and usage.

In your question, you’ve mentioned some important points regarding the effects of untreated hearing loss on quality of life. Depression, increased social isolation and even cognitive decline and dementia have all been linked to untreated hearing loss in the elderly.

One important thing to keep in mind is that while hearing aids are a suitable solution, it is not the only option for treating hearing loss. One of the newest technologies is the ClearCast PAL, a personal assistive listening (PAL) device. This is an FDA-registered wearable device that is a simple solution to hearing loss without the associated stigma and cost issues that plague hearing aids. In fact, the product has been called “cheaters for your ears”.

The user simply wears the device around their neck like a set of headphones. The built-in microphone will amplify nearby conversations similar to a high-end hearing aid.

There is also a remote microphone that can be place next to the television or at the center of a dinner table so that the user can hear the exact conversation or dialog they want to hear without all of the background noise that hearing aid users complain of.

The good news is that at the end of this process, your dad will be healthier and more able to connect to the world and the people around him. You can learn more here:

Sreek Cherukuri, MD. Board-certified ear, nose and throat doctor in Chicago, IL

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