Hearing loss is one of the more distressing parts of getting older. Seniors who have hearing loss often find themselves struggling to enjoy life as much as they used to. It’s hard to hear the TV or music, and following conversations with friends becomes harder work. This strain on hearing, something that many of us take for granted, can often cause seniors to withdraw from social interaction altogether.
According to the National Institutes of Health, only one in five Americans who have hearing loss wear a hearing aid. Yet, research has shown that not wearing a hearing aid if you need one can increase the chances of depression, dementia, and even falls, not to mention the social impact and health risks of being less active.
Cost of Hearing Aids Can Prevent Seniors from Getting One
One of the barriers to getting a hearing aid is the cost. Currently, Medicare does not cover hearing aids, and neither do most health insurance programs. With hearing aids running anywhere from $1,000 to $6,000 per device, it’s easy to see how cost can be an issue, even if a payment plan is available.
Over the counter hearing aids are one possible way of getting around the cost – but are they worth it? Let’s take a closer look, and find out where to get them.
FYI: Most hearing aid companies offer free financing for their hearing aids, some of which come with little to no interest.
Pros and Cons Of An Over the Counter Hearing Aid
Over the counter hearing aids come with their own unique set of benefits and drawbacks. To help you figure out if this type of device is right for you, here are the main takeaways.
OTC Hearing Aid Pros
- The main pro of an OTC hearing aid is the cost. With professional hearing aids running upwards of $5,000, they’re not an affordable option for every senior who needs them. OTC hearing aids offer much more affordable alternatives, ones that can also be purchased quickly with little assessment.
- You’re not paying for features you don’t need.
- For those with mild to moderate hearing loss, an over the counter hearing aid will most likely be able to provide the necessary hearing assistance.
- Companies like Eargo and Elevated Hearing (more on them below) can also take the stress out of getting hearing aids fitted by offering a quick, easy, one-stop service. There’s no need to book and attend multiple appointments, and your devices can be with you in just days.
OTC Hearing Aid Cons
- Rather than being personally molded to your ear, OTC hearing aids are a one-size-fits-all solution, so they might not be as comfortable, depending on the size and shape of your ears.
- Unlike traditional hearing aid companies, who staff hearing professionals, most OTC hearing aid companies offer no such services, meaning you don’t get the same level of support to make sure the option you choose is the right one for your needs and lifestyle.
- You might not get the same warranties and guarantees as with a traditional hearing aid company, although in recent years, many OTC hearing aid companies have been stepping up their game in this regard.
- The device might not be of the quality you need. Hearing aids aren’t just about making sounds louder; they also hone in on the sounds you need to hear, often while diminishing background noise. A lower quality device simply won’t give you a good hearing experience.
Before You Opt For An Over the Counter Hearing Aid
Before opting for an OTC hearing aid, we recommend seeing a medical professional to be sure you need a hearing aid. Hearing loss can sometimes be caused by a tumor, a benign growth, or even a build-up of ear wax. It’s important to know for sure what’s causing your hearing loss before you get a hearing aid. Otherwise, there’s a risk of an underlying condition going untreated. Additionally, before you pony up a couple of thousand dollars for a hearing aid, you’ll want to make sure the root of your hearing issues isn’t something easily fixed.
Is Over The Counter A Good Option?
Getting a professional hearing aid offers lots of benefits. However, don’t overlook OTC hearing aids as a possibility. OTC hearing aids are a way to reduce the cost of hearing aids and streamline the whole process. What we would say, however, is to buy them from a reputable company such as those listed here.
The More You Know: OTC hearing aids are generally suited to those with mild to moderate hearing loss. Seniors with severe or profound hearing loss should see an audiologist and get professional aids fitted.
What Should I Ask Before Buying An OTC Hearing Aid?
With hearing aids being such complicated and expensive devices, we recommend asking the following questions before buying an OTC hearing aid:
- Do they come with any guarantees or warranties?
- Is there an evaluation period so I can try them out first?
- What happens if they break or don’t work as expected?
- Is there any follow-up support?
- Will I get any help with choosing my hearing aids?
- How are the hearing aids powered? How do I recharge them or replace the battery?
- How do I clean them?
The Best Over The Counter Hearing Aids
Let’s take a closer look at our picks for the best OTC hearing aids.