Anyone Have Recommendations on Hearing Aids?

I need to get one (my latest road trip proved that), but I’m reluctant to get a $2000-$3000 one because I know I’m going to forget about it and jump in the ocean or in a creek or wash my hair. I just don’t have the constant presence of mind to remember to take it out when I get wet (which is often). At the other end of the price scale are $39.95 hearing aids (well, amplifiers), so I figure that there must be hearing aids in the $300-$500 zone that are in between. Anyone have any experience?

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

14 Responses to Anyone Have Recommendations on Hearing Aids?

  1. I have no idea what the price is, but there is someone who advertises in Science News. Actually, I dug out a Science News, and the link I found was I could swear there was another company that DOESN'T call their product a hearing aid that advertised, but I couldn't find one. You might contact Science News if this link is too expensive. They would know their advertisers.


  2. I have no personal experience, but do know that it's a real buyer beware market. Unregulated and from what I've heard, lots of company's taking advantage of seniors. There is a start-up in Austin Tx that's trying to change things by e-tailing a better product with reasonable margins, but I do not recall their name.

  3. Hey Lloyd, If it's available to you check out the local Costco. I have a friend that lives in SE Alaska in a bush community, comes "down south" (Seattle/Portland area) once a year or so. He's had great success with the folks at Costco, claims good prices and excellent service and warranty replacement.

  4. LLoyd,
    I checked out Costco in Marin and found them no less expensive, and they only accept AmEx or cash. I went to Kaiser and got a pair for $3200. Even they aren't wonderful. Nothing matches the original. Getting old has some drawbacks, especially if you've used your body adventurously. Tomas and I spent about the same amount about four years apart, and my newer ones are smaller and very electronically sophisticated. Let's chat at next Tuesday night.

  5. My son has had hearing aids for years… since he was maybe 1.5 yrs. He is now 23. The digital hearing aids made all the difference. He could hear in crowded places. That's the best part. We used to avoid eating in a place like Denny's… noisy places. Now we can go anywhere. He is in boat building school and gone sailing. They aren't what you were born with, but digital makes a big difference. Bryan Lowe

  6. Here is some advice about hearing aids and hearing loss that I know from a doctor regarding my experience. Most people who get hearing aids end up not using them, because they don't increase volume, what they do is they cut off all sound, and then filter it out and give you back some sound. Most people find that so bad that they don't use them.

    He divided hearing loss into 3 separate degrees:
    1) When you are at a party and have difficulty hearing the person you are talking to because of background noise.
    2) When you are at a dinner party and there are 6 or 7 people, and you have difficulty hearing someone.
    3) When you are with 1 or 2 people alone and you have difficulty hearing them.

    It is this third level that he recommends is when most people actually need a hearing aid, the other 2 most people put up with because of the trade-off between irritation and levels.

    Hope this helps.

  7. Hi Lloyd,
    Ltch here. I was born with a significant hearing loss so have dealt with aids much of my life. They are indeed expensive, easily damaged and easily lost, so getting reliable and expert service on them is as important as the quality of the aid itself, in my opinion. I have bought aids at Costco and while the aids were somewhat less expensive, the service personnel are minimally trained and the aids' sound quality was not all that great. Getting a proper fit is also essential.

    For all these reasons, I have bought my last three or four aids ( I need them in both ears) through Kaiser. The audiologists are well trained, they will fit you for as many ear molds as it takes, they have no qualms about sending aids back if you're not happy, they offer insurance on aids–very important if you are new to wearing them and sometimes lose things–and offer you many choices in styles, manufacturers, etc.

    The only down side is that a good aid is about $2000 each. I groan each time I have to buy one, but trust me, a cheap aid isn't worth a damn. Good luck!

  8. Lloyd, I agree with Litch. I've been wearing hearing aids in both ears since age 3 (I'm now 49), and have worn every brand and type there is. When I was little, I drove my parents mad – "I wanted to hear what it sounds like under water!", stuff like that. I went through quite a few 🙂 *ALWAYS* see a licensed audiologist and get your hearing tested before buying your aids. And like Litch, I groan at the price, but I gather he and I wear the most powerful ones (mine are 135 decibels!). Lesser hearing damage requires less power, therefore the aids are cheaper. You might not even need digital ones – the analogs are much cheaper. Good luck.
    Justin (The Modern Cabin)

  9. Lloyd, I have no hearing loss (yet!) but my dad needed one years ago and kind of hated it, it amplified everything at once, producing an annoying din. He rarely used it. More recently, a long-term guest at the hotel where I worked used one for about a 40% hearing loss, and complained loudly that he had been sold an $8000 (not kidding) aid, and it was pretty much useless. My take-away was, more expensive aids are not necessarily worth it, there's lots of companies who will take as much $ from you as they can without really helping you… beware of grandiose promises, get help from real experts (lots of charlatans out there), go as cheap as you can at first. You may save thousands of bucks. Good luck buddy!

  10. Hey Lloyd, I have been a fan since reading SHELTER in high school, circa 1975. More recently, I heard about you from Louie Frazier up at The Land. Anyhow, I researched hearing aids for my dad and found this on Kevin kelly's CoolTools blog. They sound like the ticket!
    best regards, stefan

    Acoustitone PRO Hearing Aids

  11. Thank you all for the suggestions. I ordered one as reviewed on CoolTools yesterday, an Acousitone for $180. I'll report back once I try it. There's a 45 day trial period. It's less than 1/10 of the cost of hearing aids that all of my friends have, and I have an idea it might be okay for me, since my hearing loss isn't all that bad.

  12. Definitely go to costco. My wife has received two different hearing aids over the years and have saved thousands. They have a range of models with low prices (were the high priced ones a few years ago but still excellent technology). I am very serious, you really will not do better anywhere else. We did a lot of comparison shopping and nothing comes close. Then there is the service and the unconditional, full money back guarantee. Try to get that on a hearing aid anywhere else.

  13. I got my 1st hearing aids at 40, when I had a decent hearing test. They were analog, and pretty terrible, so I never wore them. Last year I got digital hearing aids. They're terrific. I really notice all the sound I've been missing, and I can have conversations much more easily. Go to a good audiologist, get tested, and get a good recommendation. I have behind-the-ear aids, but there are options.

    I lose several pair of reading glasses every year, but haven't lost my hearing aids. I did forget, and leave them on the arm of the couch one night, and the dog chewed the speakers. Yay for the warranty; got them fixed the same day.

    Commit to wearing them for at least a couple of months, and get them adjusted so you're comfortable. Your brain has to do quite a bit of adapting.

    Well worth the money; if you don't hear, you aren't communicating successfully.

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