Frequently Asked Questions About Dementia and Hearing Loss

My dad is in early dementia and won’t wear his hearing aid. Should we encourage him to wear it?

YES! Everyone who has been prescribed hearing aids should be wearing them from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed with two exceptions. If they are going in the shower or swimming (hearing aids are not waterproof) and if they are going to be in a noisy environment like using a lawn mower (they should be using hearing protection instead). The best suggestion is to make it part of their daily routine. When they wake up, they put on their glasses, take their pills and put on their hearing aids. Everyday. If they have caregivers, make sure that they are helping make this part of the daily routine.

 

Does having dementia increase the progression of hearing loss?

There is currently no evidence of that. I haven’t seen any studies that have looked into this.

 

Are all hearing assessments free everywhere?

Most clinics offer free hearing assessments. Look for a clinic that has an experienced audiologist. Don’t be afraid to ask what their credentials are and what experience they have.

 

What if the person with dementia doesn’t want to wear hearing aids?

This is difficult and is very common. The best suggestion is to make it part of their daily routine. When they wake up, they put on their glasses, take their pills and put on their hearing aids. Everyday. If they have caregivers, make sure that they are helping make this part of the daily routine.

 

Do you have any strategies for those with dementia taking hearing aids out and then stashing them and not being able to find them? This can be devastating for families given the cost to replace them.

When we treat patients who do this, we will often use the biggest hearing aids we can in our treatment plans. This also makes them much easier to find and handle for people with dexterity issues in their fingers. We also use rechargeable hearing aids. This has two benefits:

  1. The patient and their caregivers no longer have to fiddle with changing batteries.
  2. The hearing aids are placed into their charger every night so it helps set that routine in place.

We have also reached out to hearing aid manufacturers about the idea of having a loud beeping function in the hearing aids that can be played via a phone app. This would act like a homing beacon to help find the hearing aids. We are working on it!

How much do hearing aids cost?

Hearing aids cost between $3,000 and $1,500 per hearing aid. The government provides a grant for every person with an Ontario health card of $500 per hearing aid. Many people also have additional insurance that helps cover the cost. Hearing aids should come with a 5-year warranty. Once you buy hearing aids there should be no additional costs for programming, adjustments, or repairs for the life of the hearing aids (usually about 5 years).

 

Any suggestions for people in our lives that have hearing aids but claim that they do not work for them? Even after multiple adjustments, models, etc.?

Generally, if hearing aids aren’t working for someone it means that the audiologist or hearing instrument specialist who prescribed them with the devices has failed. It is almost never the fault of the patient or the device itself. Audiologists and Hearing Instrument Specialists often fail by not doing proper assessments, not properly setting expectations with the patients, and by not giving enough education and follow-up to help the patient on their hearing health journey.

 

Hearing aids are not something that can be bought from a shelf and work well. My suggestion would be to find an experienced Hearing Care professional who has a track record of treatment success. Ask the provider lots of questions, ask them what their treatment success rate is, ask them if their warranty covers the life of the hearing aid (5 years). One red flag is if they offer sales, deals or buy one get one free. This means you are meeting with a sales person not a medical professional.

 

What about tinnitus for hearing loss? Are there any treatments available that actually have some success?

The short answer is yes. There are treatments available that can be successful. There is no magic pill that will cure tinnitus. Tinnitus can be caused by many different factors. Hyper-tension, high blood pressure, TMJ issues, tightness in the neck and shoulders, head injuries, certain drugs, and other factors can cause tinnitus. If we can treat those underlying issues often the tinnitus will lessen or go away. With almost all cases of tinnitus there is an underlying hearing loss. If we can help people to hear the sounds of life they have been missing, often their tinnitus stops annoying them. They also get all the added health and life benefits of treating their hearing loss!

 

How is True Hearing Health different from other hearing organizations?

True Hearing Health is a research-driven, evidence-based practice. We meet with patients and help them set hearing health goals by coming up with appropriate treatment plans. Hearing loss is a progressive degenerative disease and it should be treated as such. Too many hearing clinics have become retail sales based operations. We never have sales, we don’t do deals, we help people hear better.

How do we know that the person performing the hearing testing is qualified?

Ask them for their credentials and experience. Look for an Audiologist, Doctor of Audiology (sometimes listed as AUD), or a qualified Hearing Instrument Specialist (HIS).

 

Can I come to see you if I have purchased hearing aids elsewhere?

Yes. We are happy to see and help everyone. Our goal is to help people hear and live better.

 

I have tinnitus. I just got hearing aids two weeks ago. How long will it take to get used to it?

Getting used to the sounds of life while wearing hearing aids can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months. Everyone is different and we have to give the brain time to adjust to hearing the full sounds of life again. Most patients I see notice a huge improvement after two weeks of using their hearing aids full time.

 

Can hearing aids be recycled?

Yes. We take old hearing aids and repurpose them to be used in countries when they do not have funds to have hearing services.

 

How soon can someone get in to see you?

Within two weeks. If a patient has a sudden hearing loss, we will see them the same day. There are situations where their hearing could potentially be saved if we get them started on treatment fast enough.