As a result of a recent interview I did with Dr. Stefanie Wolf, a licensed audiologist in Rockville Center, NY, (you can read that interview here) I received a great education on audiology in general and “free hearing aids for seniors” in particular.
And as a result of that interview, it has forced me to re-build this entire page, as much of the advice that I was giving was flat out wrong, or in some instances, I had fallen for some deceptive marketing practices put out there by hearing aid manufacturers.
But because this is the most common question I receive…how to find a free hearing aid…it was necessary for me to strive to get you the best information on the subject.
I am indebted to Dr. Wolf for that.
So what I am doing to do is list some of those deceptive marketing practices so that you are aware of my past mistakes, and also give you some solid recommendations as to find economical alternatives.
Video Overview of “Free” Hearing Aids and Economical Alternatives
How Does A Hearing Aid Work
In order to understand things better, you need to understand how a hearing aid works. A hearing aid is a digital sound processor, NOT AN AMPLIFIER, as Dr. Wolf put it. Someone suffering from hearing loss does not need the sound of everything around them to go up, which is what an amplifier does. So this means the person sitting next to you, as well as the crowd around you, is louder.
This isn’t going to help you hear better. This is what going to make everything louder.
What do you need is a better signal to noise ratio, and this is what hearing aids do…20 times a second. Adding strength to the voices close to you while minimizing the background noise.
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How This Pertains To You
A hearing aid, as you can see, is a very sensitive device, and is tuned to the individual.
This is why they are so expensive and why in many instances you can not just pick up any hearing aid and start using it…it needs to be tuned to your particular reason for hearing loss based upon whatever damage there may be to the inner working of your inner ear.
How Do Scammers Take Advantage of This
Because devices are so expensive, there is understandably a need on the part of low-income seniors to find either a free hearing aid or an inexpensive alternative.
And one of those deceptive marketing practices that I talked about above is the “clinical trial of a hearing aid”. This is actually a ploy because you still have to pay for the cost of the hearing aid (many of these clinical trials may say that you get the hearing aid for free but this isn’t the case once you get the fine print in the mail).
Other Alternatives Available To You
There are some places that you can choose to look for assistance with a hearing aid.
You just need to be aware without the device being tuned especially tuned to you then there is no way for you to get the maximum benefit out of the device…
The Lion’s Club is a group of business men and women in your community who end up serving the community, volunteering their time and participating in charitable events.
The Lion’s operate not only a national hearing aid bank but many local chapters operate their own hearing aid bank on a community basis as well.
In addition, due to the fact that these are local business leaders, many of them may now of a local charity or group that may be able to help you as well.
Office Of The Aging
Your local Office of the Aging [this government office could also be known as the Division of Senior Services in your area] may be in a position to help in several ways…
As the local office that assists seniors, it is entirely possible that they may know of a local agency or charity that can help.
In addition, in SOME states Medicaid can help low income individuals pay for hearing aids. You would have to apply for Medicaid and get approved first, but this could be an invaluable source of help.
Note: Being she is on Medicaid my mother just qualified for a single hearing aid. They do not pay for 2…only for one.
Discounted Hearing Aid
The next logical question comes if you cannot get hold of a free hearing aid…after all, they are hard to come by…what do you do?
There are several sources of discounted hearing aids, most notably through AARP. AARP members can receive a 20% discount at hearingshop.com on hearing aids and a 15% discount on accessories, batteries and other hearing aid supplies.
Other Devices That Could Help
In talking with Dr. Wolf, it is possible for some people to experience relief by using a pocket talker, and the best part about these devices is that they are relatively inexpensive (around $100-$150) so that puts them within reach of most people.
Note: as a professional courtesy I am informing you that Dr. Wolf does NOT specifically recommend this particular pocket talker.
However, the one above is the one that I bought for Mom before she passed away, and I have to say that it worked very well for her. If you would like an in-depth review of the product you can see it here before you purchase.