“Everybody has excuses. Champions don’t use them.”
Every time I hear this quotation, I am reminded of how much our mindset influences our lives. The top athletes in the world have had to overcome incredible obstacles—difficult training, severe injuries, and rough financial obligations—but they don’t carry these excuses to the Olympics. Each athlete knows that their hardships aren’t crutches to fall on but steps to climb. Without them, they would’ve never gotten to where they are today.
When counseling patients about their hearing health, I attempt to pinpoint deceptive beliefs patients have about themselves—beliefs that hold them back from a better and more fulfilled life. As an audiologist, I hear many. Below is a list of some of the most common limiting beliefs that people use to convince themselves and others that their hearing loss can go untreated.
1. “Hearing aids cost too much.”
Yes, hearing aids are expensive. Without insurance benefits, they range from $2000 to more than $6000 for a pair. Unfortunately, most people don’t have insurance benefits, meaning they pay the full amount out of pocket. However, cost should not keep you from pursuing amplification.
Consider how much your hearing is worth. How important is understanding your child or grandchild? How much would you be willing to spend to maintain those important relationships? Most people keep their hearing aids for at least five years. If you break this down, the ultimate cost for even high-end hearing aids is only $100 a month; and, if you were to purchase a less expensive model, you could be paying as low as $33 a month.
Maybe you’d like to purchase aids, but you don’t have enough money right now. If this is the case, you can always pursue payment options. [We partner with a company that offers loans, allowing patients to pay monthly for their hearing aids.]
Unfortunately, some people can’t afford even monthly payments. In this circumstance, our non-profit, Grace Hearing Center, comes in. Grace Hearing Center works with the working poor to provide hearing aids to everyone who needs them.
So, if cost is a concern to you, consider the options I’ve mentioned. Hearing and engaging with your family are important. Stop limiting yourself based on a deceptive belief about money and determine to seek help. Our audiologists are happy to direct you toward the best solution.
2. “My hearing’s not bad enough” or “If others would speak more clearly, I wouldn’t need hearing aids anyway.”
This is a tricky excuse to combat. Sometimes, patients with slight hearing loss are not hugely influenced by it. In this case, the benefit they might receive when wearing the aids would not be worth the cost. However, just because one’s hearing loss is not bothersome now does not mean it won’t ever be.
People say, “I will get hearing aids when they need them;” however, if you wait until you feel that you need them, the prime time to get aids has likely passed. Get them too early, and they may not be worth the cost; get them too late, and your brain will have a difficult time adjusting to them. The trick is to get them at just the right stage–before you notice the issue in everyday life but after the point when the hearing aids will be worth the investment. Even if your hearing doesn’t seem “bad enough,” you should still have your hearing regularly eventuated.
On the other side of this coin are those who truly need hearing aids but insist that their hearing is everyone else’s fault. Since audiologists tend to speak loudly and clearly, people often respond, “If everyone spoke like you, I wouldn’t need hearing aids.” The premise of this excuse is that everyone should change what they do to make life easier for the person suffering from hearing loss. However, this line of thinking isn’t practical. If you break a leg, do you expect everyone else to pick you up and carry you around, or do you get crutches and work with a physical therapist to get better? If you’re told you have diabetes, do you expect everyone around you to change their entire diet, or do you change your own diet and exercise more regularly to strengthen your health?
The fact is, when we have health issues, it is our own responsibility to fix them and to improve ourselves. We cannot rely on others to do it for us. The same thing applies to hearing. Although others can help in small ways, they cannot carry the burden entirely. Such thinking is not practical or reasonable. Even as audiologists, we cannot keep up the “audiologist speech” at all times. We have our normal voice at home and would struggle to always maintain the loud and clear voice we use with patients. If even your audiologist can’t do it all the time, don’t expect those who aren’t trained to change their habits to suit you. Take the big step. Be responsible and do something about your hearing!
Most people believe that hearing aids work a lot like glasses—you put them on and everything sounds like it did when you were younger. However, hearing loss is typically caused by damaged nerves. Because of this, even though we can get the sound to your ears, how your nerves will respond to the sound is beyond our control. This means that, although hearing aids can improve your hearing by making sounds clearer and more distinct, they cannot return your hearing to normal. You will still struggle at times, but the difficulty should be less frequent.
3. “Hearing aids will make me look old” or “I’m not old enough for hearing aids”
Hearing aids are worn by people of all ages – from newborns to the elderly and everyone in between. Although you are more likely to need hearing aids as you age, hearing aids in and of themselves do not indicate “old age.”
Also, hearing aids of today are not like your parents’ or grandparents’ hearing aids. No longer are they big and bulky things that stand out obviously from twenty feet away. In most cases, others don’t even notice them. In fact, many patients who were worried about the size of their devices were amazed when their hearing aids were delivered to the office. Because new hearing aids are so discreet, they are not that noticeable, especially if someone is not looking for them.
Also, contrary to common belief, hearing aids help you seem younger. That’s right! They do the opposite of this excuse. Read the following two scenarios and decide for yourself which is more obvious: 1) while conversing with a small group of friends, you are either asking for repetition, joining the conversation in inappropriate ways, or tuning out altogether or 2) you are following the conversation effortlessly while wearing small, discreet hearing aids.
Would your friend notice the small devices in your ears or the fact that you are struggling to follow conversations? Which one makes you look older?
4. “I don’t have room on my ears!”
Most people with hearing aids wear glasses, yet that doesn’t mean hearing aids won’t fit. During all my time as an audiologist, I have worked with very few people who truly did not have enough room behind their ears for the standard over-the-ear style hearing aids. In the age of COVID, the space behind the ears became more crowded; however, solutions can be found.
Sometimes, the solution is simply setting your glasses over your ears a little differently than you used to. Other times, it might be trying a different style mask or wearing the mask differently. In some cases, the solution may be choosing different style hearing aids (ones that are only in the ear – though this style is not always a solution since most hearing losses don’t work as well with this style). If you’re concerned about the real estate over your ear, talk to an audiologist. We’ll help you sort out the best solution to ensure great hearing without compromising your vision and other health needs.
5. “I’m too old. I’m probably going to die soon anyway.”
Believe it or not, I hear this limiting belief all too often. It is my favorite one to identify and reframe. As someone in my 40s, I like to remind patients that none of us have any idea how long we have left to live. I could die tomorrow while a 90-year-old lives for ten more years. I ask my patients, “If you had only ten more years, wouldn’t you like to hear as best you could during that time?” Don’t allow this limiting belief to frame your life and decisions. The years of your life should be defined by quality, not quantity.
6. “I know people who paid a lot of money for hearing aids but never use them.”
There are many reasons people buy amplification but don’t use it. To be successful with hearing aids, patients must be motivated, have realistic expectations, visit experienced audiologists, and return for follow-up care. If any of these are missing, there is a good chance the aids will end up unused.
Many people get hearing aids because they want to appease a family member. This is never a good reason to get aids. Those who purchase aids for this reason are typically bitter against the product and will end not using them.
In my first years as an audiologist, two different people with similar symptoms of hearing loss decided to get the same hearing aids. After one month, the first patient returned the aids, stating, “I hear my footsteps and the birds. These aids are driving me crazy.” The second patient stated, “I hear my footsteps! I hear the birds! I love these aids. I never knew how much I was missing.”
Both patients had the same hearing loss and were similar in age, yet one viewed the new sounds as a blessing while the other viewed them as annoying. The main difference between them was their attitude about hearing aids.
Audiologist expertise and follow-up care are also important. Audiologists are trained rigorously in school and beneath the supervision of other expert audiologists before they help patients on their own. Audiologists who do their job correctly fit patients using Real Ear Measurements and patient feedback. It is their job to know what to change when you complain about an “echo” in your voice or say that the sound of running water is overwhelming. Of course, it is your job to tell your audiologist about these issues.
If a friend, family member, or audiologist tells you that your hearing is failing, don’t make excuses! What you’re really missing out on is enjoying life–conversations and relationships that make life enjoyable and worth living!