|Diagram of the Ear|
With so many Americans experiencing hearing loss, it becomes profoundly important that those who do retain communication with others and stay connected. In fact, a 2011 study by Dr. Frank Lin of Johns Hopkins University has recently become a hot topic, as it found a strong connection between hearing loss and the risk of dementia, partially due to perceived isolation. His next study will focus on how hearing aids are used and if they can play any part in reducing the risk.
In the meantime, we know that hearing aids continue to be invaluable to individuals who are hard of hearing and those around them. According to hearingreview.com, hearing aid sales are up 2.9% from 2011 to 2012. Historically, the industry has seen a 3-4% increase, but in this economic climate, this is still seen as adequate growth. Additionally, veterans now account for 20% of the hearing aid market. Another interesting area of growth is that of Behind The Ear (BTE) hearing aids with external receivers, which now account for about half of all hearing aids sold in the U.S. – this is big leap, up from about 40% in 2011.
As devices change or you experiment with what type works best for you, you may find yourself wondering how to dispose of or find used hearing aids. If you use or need a hearing aid or know someone who does, there are multiple ways to donate and/or receive used devices. Hear Now, part of theStarkey Hearing Foundation, repairs and resells devices in the U.S. and uses that revenue to buy new hearing aids for those who can't afford them. You can also send devices to sertoma.org, which is working to make public facilities accessible for all. In California, you can donate to the John Tracy Clinic, which provides hearing device loaners to children. Moreover, Rotary Clubs often collect used hearing aids for repair and donation, as do service clubs like Lions Clubs, among others. Don't forget - donations are usually tax-deductible, too!
Have you had any experience donating or receiving a hearing aid from one of these or any other organizations? Have we missed a good resource? Let us know! Also, if you are in California and need an assistive hearing device, contact your AT Advocate by clicking here.