Anyone got tips on hearing aids?

One of the best things about doing this blog is the feedback. In the “comments” section, I’ve had people recommend all kinds of things: tools, movies, music, remedies that I have found useful. So here I’m throwing out a question about hearing aids. I need to get them, but hate to spend $2-$3000 on each one. I think it’s a racket, maybe an oligopoly of sorts. They shouldn’t cost that much. Also, I don’t need all the latest bells and whistles.

I’ve seen $3-$500 hearing aids, but one problem is that I need them to be waterproof because I know I can’t remember to take them out each time I get in the water. I’m just not that consistently conscious with the requirement of daily life.

Any tips?

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:

9 Responses to Anyone got tips on hearing aids?

  1. maybe you could pick out a few models/companies you like, and contact them to see if they would like you to "trial" them , to report on same, on your blog..

    etc etc

  2. Hi Lloyd, I have a friend who just turned 80 and lives in a small bush community up in SE Alaska. He gets his hearing aids at Costco (either in Olympia WA or Portland OR their Pacific Northwest Bases) and has had good luck with them. I don't think they are rated as waterproof but have been dunked in streams or bilge water more than a few times and have survived. They come with a round disk that they get dried out in when not in use. Don't know the brand, will try to find out for you, good luck, Rob

  3. Hey Lloyd, check out MDHearingAid. I tried the Pro set for a couple years. They are analog and were prone to malfunctions then switched to the Air which are digital and cost $650/ pair. They aren't waterproof but have done fine running in the rain. They have survived a couple shots in the shower. Wouldn't recommend a plunge in the creek.

    Later, Gary

  4. If you search for Pocketalker, personal amplifier, hearing amplifier on Amazon you will find a wide assortment of products available. I have the most inexpensive of hearing aids and they work just fine and a Pocketalker type product is very useful (and more comfortable) than hearing aids. I don't know anything that is waterproof however, but surely you will remember to take out the Pocketalker before you jump in (it's like a v small walkman)?

  5. I recently had to get hearing aids too. I'm 57, a little on the young side to need them. The hearing department at a top notch hospital in Boston was charging $6500 for the pair. My dad told me about the hearing center at Costco. I was a little skeptical but it turned out they were terrific, they had an audiologist on site, they had demo hearing aids to try out (the hospital did not) and the same pair cost only $2600. I've been very happy.

  6. Hey Lloyd–my last pair was one of the expensive kind you get at your standard hearing aid place and they worked but were a ripoff. Thankfully you can now get great hearing aids online for much less. Here's what I'd recommend. Get your hearing tested by your doctor (I did this at Kaiser). Then take the results and send them to one of the online hearing aid providers. I used Audicus. They came just a week or so after I ordered them and they work great. Make sure you wear them all the time at first so you'll get used to them.

  7. Hi Lloyd,

    I agree, they cost too much, but the main consideration is fine-tuning it to the frequencies you're missing – and then tuning it some more once it's in your ear. The cheaper ones don't do this as well – and anything that's just mailed is ridiculous. A lot of those cheaper or mailed "hearing aids" never get worn because they just amplify everything, so they become a waste of money.

    The key is to find a good audiologist – ask around – one who will dial up some tones & dial down some others AFTER you get it. Some people say Costco is OK, others say not – hit-or-miss, like Costco's glasses.

    Unfortunately, ALL ads notwithstanding,a hearing aid will never know who you want to listen to in a noisy room! However a really well-tuned hearing aid helps me pick up on side commentary more quickly. I've noticed the same thing with other users – you might able to function fine without a hearing aid, but when they're on, you're suddenly more "with it".

    Also, while whispers are still hard, it's nice to hear crickets, birdsongs, etcs – little bits of treble that started falling out of the symphony of life. Unfortunately I don't think any are waterproof – that'd be great (let us know if you find one!)

    In-the-ear models block more sound, but they don't flop & fall out like over-the-ear models, and the ear canal sometimes shields it from occasional drizzle (but I'd hate to test mine). At least they aren't tan anymore – now they look like the latest hi-tech gadget.

    When Iphones came out, people with severe hearing loss adapted them as external hearing aids several years ago, but I haven't heard about that recently (it was originally in NYT).
    Hope this helps. -z.

  8. RoberttheBald – What brand was that? Bilge water?! Can you find out? Were the "discs" the batteries?
    BTW mine have always been Siemens – overpriced, but very good. I like that I don't get deafened when something loud suddenly happens – it's just for a few frequencies. I'm totally for hearing aids becoming more like an Ipod or an Iphone, but I just know too many people for whom it didn't work out well… It's like trying to "test-drive" glasses – they have to be tailored to you, and the worse you have it, the more expensive tailoring you need… sigh ;/ -Z.

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