Many people believe wearing a hearing aid is an advertisement for being old.
No one should have to feel self-conscious about needing hearing assistance, but the stigma is real: After first experiencing hearing loss, people take an average of five to seven years to seek help, according to the Hearing Industries Association.
There’s good news. Hearing aids no longer resemble the chunky, screeching devices of the last century. Some are super-expensive, super-tiny in-ear devices you’d never notice, others are “hearables” that look like regular wireless earphones, and there are iPhone apps that work with regular earbuds—no specialized equipment necessary.
A new law is set to make over-the-counter hearing aids available to people without a visit to the audiologist, opening the door for a wider variety of inexpensive products marketed to people with only mild-to-moderate hearing loss.
There have never been more options for people who need hearing help. Yet all the innovation can’t make the traditional frustrations go away—and it can create tech-support headaches, especially for people who aren’t very smartphone-savvy. The result is that many people still might not get a hearing aid, and that can be a strain on families.