A Billion People At Risk For Hearing Loss

hearing loss comes at a priceThis may be music to the hearing aid industry‘s ears.  CNN is reporting that up to a billion people are at risk for hearing loss, and we’re not talking about boomers and seniors today.  The iPod generation has officially been put on notice, that continued exposure to loud noises (without protection) can and will damage your long-term hearing prospects.

iPod Generation and Hearing Loss

In February the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a press release that included these details (and more):  “Some 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices, including smartphones, and exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues such as nightclubs, bars and sporting events, according to WHO. Hearing loss has potentially devastating consequences for physical and mental health, education and employment.”

Teenagers and young people can better protect their hearing by keeping the volume down on personal audio devices, wearing earplugs when visiting noisy venues, and using carefully fitted, and, if possible, noise-cancelling earphones/headphones. They can also limit the time spent engaged in noisy activities by taking short listening breaks and restricting the daily use of personal audio devices to less than one hour. – World Health Org.

Younger folks don’t realize yet that once you lose your hearing, it’s gone for good.  The solutions are tiny devices that cost big money (yes more than your fancy new iPod nano). These devices come in the form of hearing aids or personal sound amplifiers, and this is big business for some! Did you know that the top 6 hearing aid manufacturers control 98% of the hearing aid market? Sanford C. Bernstein is a leading Wall Street research firm and in 2013 they provide key data points on the hearing aid market for industry guidance. Bernstein estimated the following market share in terms of “unit sales”:

Hearing Aid Market LeadersiPod Generation at risk for Hearing Loss

1) Sonova (owner of Phonak et al.): 24%
2) William Demant (owner of Oticon et al.): 23%
3) Siemens: 17%
4) GN Store Nord (owner of GN ReSound, et al.): 16%
5) Starkey Technologies: 9%
6) Widex: 9%

Disrupting such a well controlled market is difficult but not impossible.  Innovative companies like Apple, Samsung and a host of start-ups eyeing this market have the means, aptitude and capacity to pivot this market right on its ear!  Until then, let’s turn down the volume a bit eh? (Oh yea… and stay off my lawn!) :)

Photo credit: Apple

Hearing Aids vs. Personal Sound Amplifiers: Which One Should You Be Using?

Hearing Aids vs Personal Sound AmplifiersCoping with hearing loss as you get older can be trying. It’s difficult to even face up to the reality of your hearing loss, and once you’ve accepted it, it can be hard to understand. You suddenly have to take in a lot of information and make a decision about how to best compensate for your hearing loss. Once you have had your hearing tested, you can talk to your doctor or audiologist for advice about devices that will help you to hear. You will have heard of hearing aids, but you might also have heard of personal sound amplifiers. But what are they, and should you buy one?

What is a Personal Sound Amplifier?

A personal sound amplifier is not the same thing as a hearing aid. People wear a personal sound amplifier in or on the ear. It amplifies sound so that you can watch TV quietly or perhaps hear children sleeping in the next room. They work by picking up noises with a microphone and amplifying the sound into your ear. They can be quite convenient for hearing noises no one would ordinarily be able to hear. Their intention is to give someone without hearing loss a kind of superpower of hearing, rather than make up for hearing loss.

What is a Hearing Aid?

A hearing aid is a medical device fitted in or on the ear that is designed to compensate for hearing loss. The technology in a hearing aid is much more advanced than in a personal sound amplifier, which is why they are more expensive. But the cost is worth it because they are specifically for hearing loss. On the other hand, compensating for hearing loss isn’t the primary purpose of a sound amplifier. When you go to an audiologist to have your hearing tested they will talk to you about your options for using a hearing aid, if you need one.

Which One Should I Use?

With the rising cost of hearing aids, many people turn to personal sound amplifiers because they are a cheap alternative. But the truth is that the FDA released guidance in 2009 stating that personal sound amplifiers are not intended for use by people with hearing loss. However, people with mild hearing loss do sometimes choose to use them. If you have more serious hearing loss, you should definitely buy a hearing aid. Talk to your audiologist about your options.

How Can I Get the Best Hearing Aids?

The reason personal sound amplifiers attract many people is that they can be bought so readily for low prices. But this won’t get you a device tailored to your needs. If you want to make sure that you get a good deal on your hearing aid, make sure you buy your hearing aid from a professional clinician, so you get the best product for the price. They will have a range of hearing aids to suit different budgets and will also take care of cleaning and maintenance free of charge.

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

What You Need to Know About Personal Sound Amplifiers

personal sound amplifiersCoping with hearing loss can be difficult. As we get older, losing our hearing sadly becomes inevitable. However, you don’t have to suffer in silence. There are a multitude of personal sound amplifiers available to you when it comes to your hearing. While you may not be able to fully restore your hearing, there are some great medical gadgets on the market that can help.

Personal Sound Amplifiers

Everyone is in the know when it comes to personal sound amplifiers. Personal sound amplifiers have proven to be an effective tool for those that are suffering from hearing loss. Selecting the appropriate amplifier that is suitable for you can be difficult.

Let’s take a look at hearing amplifiers in more depth:

As the name suggests, personal sound amplifiers can amplify the sound that you hear. For those that are suffering from minor hearing loss, this can prove to be a useful tool. What is more, it can assist people with their hearing problems. The sound is amplified where it was once not heard at all.

How Do Personal Sound Amplifiers Work?

The amplifier is fitted with what is akin to a microphone. This means that the sound is picked up through the microphone-like device and is fed through a speaker. They have a superb range. This means that they can pick up noises from a considerable distance. For those who are suffering at the helm of hearing loss, this can provide a fantastic opportunity to hear once again. What is more, you will also be able to hear background noise once again. For some, this provides an excellent comfort.


Hearing amplifiers are subtle. In fact, they are discreet and fit neatly into the ear. They can be removed and inserted with ease. This means that they can be cleaned and properly cared for with minimum fuss. This often makes them an attractive device for many who are ready to tackle their hearing loss.

Who Can Use a Personal Sound Amplifier?

In the midst of losing your hearing, you may want to try a wide range of medical devices in order to restore your hearing. However, if you are suffering from chronic hearing loss, this device will not be able to assist you with your quest for full hearing. If you are suffering from minor hearing loss, the hearing amplifier may be able to help you. Take a look at the personal hearing amplifiers buyers guide to see if there is a suitable device for you.

Mild Hearing Disorders

For those that are suffering from mild hearing disorders, this device can help you as well, but it can also prove to be a burden. Due to the powerful amplifying nature of the hearing device, all background noise can be picked up. This means that when you are outside, wind and traffic noise can be heard distinctly. For some this is positive news, for others this can prove to be troublesome, depending on the setting you are in. If you have a mild hearing disorder and you want to be able to be able to hear in a social environment, this could be the right device for you.

Image is via Travis Isaacs

How Do They Make Custom Fitted Hearing Aids?

If you’ve ever shopped for custom fitted hearing aids, you know there are many hearing aid options to choose from.  Depending on you or your family member’s needs, you may need an in-the-canal fit, or an in-ear fit, a behind-the-ear hearing aid, and so on… and so on… and so on!  Now that you know what configurations are out there, it’s interesting to see how these custom fitted hearing aids are made.  Many of you know how expensive hearing aids can be, but did you know what goes into making the custom fitted hearing aids?  The guys at How Its Made (a very popular YouTube channel) put together a video to answer the question; How do they make custom hearing aids?  Enjoy!

How Custom Fitted Hearing Aids Are Made

Do I Need A Hearing Aid? What To Expect Before You Buy

If you’ve ever wondered; Do I need a hearing aid?  You just might… Professionals will tell you that hearing loss is such a gradual decline that folks with hearing issues are usually the last to know.  Many times they blame hearing issues on others, believing friends are mumbling, or perhaps they’re “quiet talkers” (to steal a Seinfeldism).

Do I need a hearing aid?

News reporter Emily Robinson interviews Heather Bennett, an audiologist with Advanced Hearing Centers for some great tips on what to expect if you think you might need a hearing aid.  First step (and most obvious on the list) is to get yourself tested.  Find a local qualified resource that can professionally diagnose your specific situation, and get some unbiased information on what options are available to you.  A number of audiologists sell hearing aids and will likely want to sell you one that they stock.

Buying a hearing aid from an audiologist isn’t a bad idea, but understand what you’re buying before you take the plunge.  Search online for equivalent hearing aid prices, and don’t be afraid to negotiate with sellers.  Did you know that Costco is now in the hearing aid business?  Bottom line is that consumers need to do their homework more than ever.  The old adage about making a good purchasing decision still holds true to this day;  Buy right… Cry once.



Consumer Reports Offers Tips On Buying A Hearing Aid

Buying A Hearing Aid

Buying a hearing aid for the first time can be a tough experience for many.  So many different hearing aid styles to choose from… In-the-ear, completely-in-the-ear, behind the ear… And the list goes on and on! There a number of new companies entering the hearing aid market (such as Costco and Embrace Hearing) that are providing more competition and innovation in this space.  This is good news for all!

As we said, buying the right hearing aid is not easy.  Fortunately there are a number of resources to help guide you on your quest for better hearing.  Our goal here at The Senior List is to bring you information that matters to you and your family.  That said, we’re pleased to be able to share a video from Consumer Reports that offers advice on choosing the proper hearing aid.  If you have other helpful hints that were successful for you, please pass them along.

 Consumer Reports (video): Tips on buying a hearing aid

More About Buying a Hearing Aid:

Costco is challenging the current hearing aid market model

Cool videos of people hearing for the first time (with the help of a hearing device)

Embrace Hearing cuts out the middle man

How To Clean A Hearing Aid Video

Today, The Senior List continues our focus on the hearing aid market in an effort to inform our readers, and assist the millions of folks out there with hearing loss. Odd are each and every one of you reading this post knows someone who wears a hearing aid, OR knows someone suffering from hearing loss. In the U.S. alone, 37 million people suffer from hearing loss, and that number is growing exponentially. One of the most important aspects of maintaining your hearing aid (for optimal performance) is regular cleaning.  It’s important for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the amount of debris that collects in and around your device such as ear wax, dirt, and the like.

Here’s a nice tutorial we found from Ascent Hearing Care in the UK (website temporarily unavailable).  Ascent Hearing Care is on Twitter (@AscentHearing).  In the video, a representative from Ascent Hearing discusses how to clean a hearing aid.  They describe just HOW to care for your hearing device, and WHY you should clean your hearing aid for “securing optimum performance”.

How To Clean A Hearing Aid

 If you’re interested in learning more about solutions to hearing loss, you might enjoy the following posts:

Also Read:

How Costco is challenging the current hearing aid market model

A couple of wonderful videos of people hearing for the first time (with the help of a hearing device)

Embrace Hearing cuts out the middle man

Publish Your Article On The Senior List

Publish your article on The Senior ListDo you write about the issues facing boomers and seniors today? Do you review products related to boomers and seniors?  Are you interested in a link/links back to your boomer/senior focused website?  Want to publish your article on a national stage? IF the answer is yes… Publish your article on The Senior List!


Publish Original Material On The Senior List

The Senior List reviews products and services for boomers and seniors.  We’re establishing ourselves as a hub for Caregiving articles, Product Reviews, and Technology.  If you’re a blogger and you write about boomer focused topics, we’d like to publish your material.  We’re looking for boomer bloggers that can publish at least one (1) article per month for a year (more is great).  Use our Contact Us form in the upper right menu bar to inquire and/or send us a sample of your material.  All submissions must be original material (not re-purposed).

Here’s what you can expect to receive if you wish to blog with us:

  1. Your article will be read by a national audience of boomers & seniors.  These adults (79 million strong) are seeking out information that supports their own lifestyle, and also info that assists their aging parents.  Our audience (mainly boomers) has economic influence, and they tend to take action when compelled to do so.
  2. You’ll receive an author (bio) box like the 2 examples below (your bio box may contain a link-back to your website):  Author boxAuthor (bio) box
  3. If you wish to, you may include a link back to your website in the body of your article.  We recommend that you link on a keyword that relates to a specific article or page of your site that is relative to the topic at hand.

If you’re a boomer/senior expert in the following areas; Senior Housing, Financial Services, Elder Law, Caregiving, Technology, Estate Planning, Senior Move Mgmt., Home Care, or anything else boomer/senior related, we’d love to add you to our growing list of authors.

Contact Us today to discuss becoming a published author on The Senior List.com.

On Hearing Loss and The Power of Hearing Aids

In this report on hearing loss and hearing aids we thought we’d take an opportunity to pass along a couple of our favorite videos on the subject.  The 2 videos below are wonderful reminders that illustrate the truly touching moment of folks hearing for the first time (due to hearing aid and/or implant technology). Enjoy!

29 year old deaf woman delights in hearing her voice for the first time (video)

Little girl hears for the first time with implant technology (video)


Also Read:

How Disruptors (like Costco & Embrace Hearing) In The Hearing Aid Market Are Shaking Things Up
Why Costco is Targeting the Hearing Aid Market
How to Choose the Right Hearing Aid for You
How Big Is The Hearing Aid Market?

Disruptors In Hearing Aid Market Shaking Things Up

hearing aid marketIf you’ve been following our series on hearing aids, you know that this is a huge market with skyrocketing growth potential.  Consider these stats; There are 35 million U.S. consumers that could benefit from a hearing aid, and only a quarter of them actually wear them.  (Why?  They’re darn expensive!)  Also consider that the first wave of Boomers (79 million strong) just started turning 65.  The walkman generation that started pluggin-in 33 years ago is going to turn this market… (get ready for it)… on it’s ear!

Kaiser Health News suggests that “Only a quarter of the 35 million U.S. adults who could benefit from hearing aids actually get them, and one of the main reasons is money”. – From The Senior List article “How To Choose A Hearing Aid

Newcomers To The Hearing Aid Market

There are some interesting challenges going on in the hearing aid space that could spark some disruption in this market.  First;  Costco saw the writing on the wall, and recently beganhearing aid market selling hearing aids through Costco Hearing Centers.  This is great news for consumers.  When you combine Costco’s BUYING POWER with a committed focus on QUALITY CUSTOMER SERVICE, every market tunes-in (and subsequently tunes-up.)  This means everyone else that wants to stay in this game will have to sharpen their pencils, re-think their marketing strategies, and improve customer service in a big way.

The second big disruption in this arena occurred when two former Stanford classmates (Sam Tanzer and Ross Porter) formed an unlikely partnership.  These two entrepreneurs saw a stale market with a ton of growth potential and decided to form Embrace Hearing, a company “making high-quality hearing aids available at affordable prices”.  These guys seem to get it, and they’re applying start-up-muscle to solve the problems they see inherent in this space.  Embrace Hearing cuts out the middle man, and keeps it simple.  They offer just 3 options when ordering direct; a base model at $399, a mid tier model at $599 and a high end at $899 (*price per ear when ordering a pair).  The higher the price point, the more features in the hearing aid.

hearing aid market

Embrace Hearing – How do they do it?

Ross Porter (co-founder) tells The Senior List what he thinks is wrong with the current distribution model for hearing aids, and where he thinks it’s going; “Audiologists run loss-making businesses Ross Porter - Embrace Hearingthat are subsidized by the sale of hearing aids. When a customer pays $5,000 for hearing aids, he’s paying perhaps $100 for the manufacturer’s cost, $900 for the manufacturer’s profit margin, $1,000 for the audiologist’s time, and then $3,000 to cover the overhead of an inefficient, legacy brick & mortar distribution system that will ultimately be made more efficient by the spread of online distribution. It’s important to understand that audiologists are not price gouging — but given their high fixed cost structure, they literally cannot make hearing aids affordable without going out of business.  But the world is changing, and patient needs – not audiologist needs – will determine how hearing aids are distributed in the future.  We believe that online hearing aid retailers, like Embrace Hearing, will soon dominate the hearing aid industry, leaving audiologists able to do the medical screenings and testing they are trained to do, and not the salesperson job that they are forced into.”

“A disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically first by designing for a different set of consumers in the new market and later by lowering prices in the existing market.” – Wikipedia

The Hearing Aid Market | Behind the ear Hearing AidThe Hearing Aid Market

The hearing aid market is past due for some disruption.  Make no mistake about it- there are some fantastic, extremely competent, and caring folks working in hearing loss centers (all across the U.S.).  The vast majority of these professionals go to work with one thing in mind.  To make a difference in someones life by improving problems caused by hearing loss.  Markets do what markets do… until they’re forced to correct, or to change course.  They don’t change course unless there is a compelling reason to do so.  This market is is a monster ($6 billion today & $8 billion by 2018 – CNBC reports) and there ARE compelling reasons for disruptive innovators to think about moving-in here…  John F. Kennedy once said “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”  Here’s to all the disruptive innovators out there looking ahead, and looking to shake things up a bit.       – Cheers –

Also Read:

How Costco is targeting boomers and seniors by moving into the hearing aid arena

What you need to know about hearing aids

How to choose a hearing aid