The biggest challenge facing organizations and researchers who engineer new solutions for solving hearing loss is user compliance. While many Americans have been diagnosed with hearing loss and even fitted for hearing aids, many seniors refuse to wear their hearing aids. Knowing why can help you encourage your loved on to take advantage of everything hearing aids have to offer.
Size and Visibility
One of the main objections many have against hearing aids is the size of the aid and how visible it is. An extensive thesis completed in 2016 posited that many seniors view assistive devices like hearing aids (along with trifocals and wheelchairs) as a sign of their aging condition and find them upsetting. They may also worry about what their peers and others may think if they are seen wearing a hearing aid. However, this way of thinking is slowly declining as hearing aids become small and less visible.
Comfort and Ease of Use
The comfort level of the hearing aid when it is being worn and the ease with which it can be put in and taken out are also big reasons why many seniors hesitate to wear their hearing aids full time. If they feel the aid needs to be removed before every nap or resting period, or if it feels uncomfortable to them, they may delay wearing it for part or all of each day. As hearing aids become more comfortable, streamlined, and easy to use, wearing them more frequently and for longer periods becomes easier.
Many seniors say they have issues with their hearing aids and that they aren't working as expected. In such cases, a visit to the audiologist or hearing specialist for a better fitting and settings analysis can often resolve the problem. Other seniors may have skipped the audiologist and chosen a personal sound amplification product - a PSAP - instead. Unlike a hearing aid, all PSAPs are designed to do is amplify sound, not help treat hearing loss by separating background noise from speech, for example or using directional hearing to pick out conversations in a crowd.
Overall, size, visibility, comfort, ease of use and effectiveness are the five key points developers and manufacturers should focus on to improve hearing aid adoption. As a caretaker or family member, you can encourage the acquisition and fitting of a high quality hearing aid device that will deliver excellent results and meet all five key factors for user compliance.
Size, visibility, comfort, ease of use and effectiveness are the five key points developers and manufacturers should focus on to improve hearing aid adoption.