Resistance to Hearing Aid Use
Why do so many people who need hearing help resist the use of hearing aids? Fast-paced technology advances certainly offer chances for so much better hearing. Yet, marketing surveys and research studies continue to explore possible reasons for customer resistance to hearing aid use. Is it all about price?
Although price is often cited as THE major cause for client reluctance, dollar signs alone do not seem to keep people from seeking help.
Some Reasons for Hearing Aid Resistance
Hearing aids have come a long way. Digital, unobtrusive sleek designs have replaced large, clunky analog instruments. This should cut through the arguments of the “stigma” of hearing aids. Yet, articles keep popping up questioning whether hearing aids should “look less like hearing aids”!?
- Prices can become obstacles to access
Although hearing aids do not fix hearing loss, there seems to be no end to the high-tech features and skills of these new-age devices. Some of the latest editions even claim AI (Artificial Intelligence) capabilities.
However, as the instruments become more and more sophisticated, prices rise and dollar signs become obstacles to access. Of course, there are always those who can pay whatever it takes. However, many people who could benefit from advanced technology simply cannot afford it. Instead, they look for other options. Smart phone apps, hearables and Over-the-Counter (OTC) hearing aids for those with milder to moderate losses are becoming increasingly popular.
- Denial and apathy
People might deny having hearing issues because they are not aware of them. Symptoms may progress slowly but eventually they become hard to ignore and obvious to others.
Denial of communication struggles is a common first reaction. Many try to hide the hearing loss by bluffing their way through conversations. Self-depreciating jokes are meant to cover embarrassment. All of this can be quite frustrating for family and friends, especially when they are told that everything would be fine if “others” spoke up and quit the nagging. Obstinate denial can result in actual apathy. Who cares anyway?
- Not ready for change.
While people may acknowledge problems, the hearing loss is not yet bad enough for them to take action. They may claim that they hear plenty. They hear what they want to hear and cranking up the volume is enough. Hearing aids are not needed.
Clearly, they are not at all ready for change. Indeed, it takes on average 7 years for people to seek meaningful help on a hearing loss that they know they have.
Some people believe that they have a certain amount of control over their lives. They want to do better and search for information about hearing loss and treatment options. While seeking the most value for the dollar, they are open to technology and understand that it comes at a price. They expect their hearing specialists to be upfront about the abilities and limitations of hearing aids, accessories and assistive systems and devices.
There are also those who might acknowledge hearing problems but feel that they have no control over the situation. They live with it and that’s it. When challenged, they continue to blame their own circumstances, costs, fate, genetics as well as others in their lives. Any excuse is a good excuse.
This is an area where “prices” and “costs” easily dominate the discussions. High hearing aid prices and hefty professional fees draw high and often unrealistic customer expectations. As one man said:” At those prices, I should hear a lot better.”
Unmet expectations have their roots in disappointment with the technology itself but also with the services received. People want their “normal” lives back. High tech, pricey instruments should be able to deliver on the promises of often overly optimistic hearing aid and clinic ads.
Instead of resistance, get involved and take action!
In spite of the various reasons for customer resistance to hearing aid use, most people do want help. And that help often starts with themselves by getting involved with their care and finding a solution.
Start with a professional, diagnostic hearing test ─ maybe at an ENT office where the motivation is not the immediate sale of hearing aids. Learn about the type and extent of the loss. How much technology is actually needed for maintaining quality of life? It does not always have to be hearing aids.
In the end…
Hearing loss is a journey, with its ups and downs. You are not alone. Learn about it. Mostly, get beyond denial, resistance and out-of-whack expectations because there is a lot of life out there with hearing loss and it can be truly amazing.
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