Nearly 25% of adults aged 65 to 74 have hearing difficulties, and half of those over the age of 75 do as well. And though 28.8 million adults in the U.S. could benefit from the use of hearing aids, less than 30% of people over 70 have ever tried them.
The reasons that deter people from hearing aids are wide-ranging — some are concerned about the high price, some find them uncomfortable and cumbersome, some people are just unaware that they’re developing hearing loss.
But for many, it’s about the antiquated notion that hearing aids are “for old people,” and they do not want to see themselves in that light.
“People think wearing hearing aids makes them look old,” notes Duane Smelser, a licensed hearing instrument specialist and the founder of Hearing Health, a Portland-based hearing provider. “But the irony is, people look older when they have a hearing loss, because they are struggling to hear.”
Advancements in hearing aid technology
Fortunately, audial boosting companies are aware of these concerns, and they have been making great strides in hearing aid technology in an attempt to make them seem less daunting and more accessible.
For example, FDA-approved hearing aids may soon be available as over-the-counter (OTC) devices, instead of just through a few select manufacturers, which would significantly defray the cost. Hearing aids are also getting smaller and more comfortable to wear, like the miniscule Eargo Neo earpiece, which is smaller than a fingernail.
But how do you overcome the embarrassment that may unconsciously arise when you even hear the term “hearing aid?” Well, these aren’t your grandpas hearing aids. The technology has evolved and, along with the ubiquitous of smartphones, hearing aids are, dare I say, trendy now.
With the help of Bluetooth technology, your hearing aid can now play music, count your steps, detect falls, monitor your heart rate, and even translate language in real time, like the Starkey Hearing Technologies’ Livio AI hearing aid. With these revolutionary new devices, Starkey intends to shed the perception that the hearing-aid industry is just for “musty old people.”
“When Steve Jobs launched the iPhone, he totally disrupted a perfectly good cell-phone market by making it into a multipurpose device,” Achin Bhowmik, Starkey’s chief technology officer, told Wired. “What Apple did to the smartphone, we’re going to do to the hearing aid.”