• Aging Well Denver

Can You Hear Me Now?

Hearing loss seems like a standard part of aging, but according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 25 percent of those ages 65 to 74 and 50 percent of those over the age of 75 have disabling hearing loss. That means that nearly 30 million adults in the U.S. would benefit from hearing aids. Untreated hearing loss can negatively affect your personality, lead to damage in parts of the brain and even increase the risk of dementia.

There are many causes of hearing loss, particularly in your later years, but it may not be as obvious to spot in others as you would expect. If you are caring for a loved one and notice certain changes in personality like a decreased interest in socializing or phone use, confusion, dizziness, or pain and ringing in the ears, it may be time for a hearing exam. Some of the more intuitive signs are, straining to understand a conversation, repeating questions or turning the volume up too high on the radio or TV.

Unfortunately, hearing aids and even hearing exams are often expensive and not typically covered by insurance. In fact, original Medicare does not cover any hearing support services and Medicare Part B will only cover a diagnostic hearing exam if your health care provider requests it. Some insurance companies will pay for a portion of your hearing aids, up to a certain amount. For instance, Kaiser Permanente offers a hearing aid benefit with a credit per ear option available every 36 months (only in Colorado.) If you're eligible for the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program through Blue Cross Blue Shield (BC/BS), they will cover up to $2500 for hearing aids every three years. If you are a veteran or have a service connection, check with your local VA to see whether you qualify for hearing-related services, including the provision of hearing aids. The VA is the single largest purchaser and provider of hearing aids in the United States.

Before you seek care for hearing loss, be sure to call your insurance company and ask specifically what your plan coverage is for hearing benefits. They may be able to guide you toward options for grants, programs or other options for supplementing the cost if they don't cover anything.

So, how do you know if your hearing loss or your loved ones hearing loss is serious enough to require intervention? How do you find a reasonably priced place to get your hearing tested? And how do you find support if you do need hearing aids or more? Well, we're here to help. We're breaking down your options for hearing support here in Denver.

Hearing tests are simple and can usually be done fairly quickly, although there are different levels of comprehensiveness. A standard hearing exam can determine whether or not you are in need of a hearing aid but could leave out important information that you would learn from a more in-depth hearing exam. In Denver, there are several options for free hearing exams.

  • Lucid Hearing - 14 locations in Colorado, including 7 in Denver. Located inside of Sam's Club. You do not need to be a member of Sam's club to visit Lucid Hearing Centers.

  • Hearing Rehab Center - Several Locations throughout Denver and Colorado. Submit a form online and receive information on your free hearing screening and set up an appointment at the clinic closest to you.

  • The Hearing Clinic - Go through your hearing history, a physical ear exam, a hearing test, and even a hearing aid test run with an audiologist who will explain to you in plain terms what your problems and your needs are.

  • Denver Audiology - Receive a free hearing screening and support with a hearing aid test drive, evaluation of your specific needs and financing options if hearing aids are recommended.

Once you have completed your hearing exam and received your results, speak with your provider about your options for hearing aids. The clinic that you are tested at will have plenty of information on buying hearing aids and even financial assistance and information on insurance coverage. However, you don't have to settle for that option. There are several programs that provide assistance in paying for hearing aids.

  • AUDIENT program - Audient is an affiliate of the Northwest Lions Foundation for Sight and Hearing and it’s administered by EPIC Hearing Healthcare. They provide hearing aids at partial cost to low-income individuals across the U.S.

  • Starkey Hearing Foundation: Hear Now program - Hear Now is a national non-profit program committed to assisting permanent U.S. residents who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and have limited financial resources. Eligibility requirements, program details, and applications can be found on their website. 

  • Colorado Gerontological Society: Hearing Grants - The Hearing Program will provide an initial grant to have an exam done to evaluate the applicant’s audiometric deficiencies. The audiologist will forward a proposal for treatment (including the type of aid to be provided and any additional necessary insertion services) to CGS, who will then evaluate it for a final grant for services.

  • Denver Lions Club: Hearing Assistance - The hearing conservation efforts of the Denver Lions Club focus on providing quality hearing aids to low-income individuals.  These efforts are coordinated by the Hearing Committee of the Club.  The Committee determines whether the individual is income-qualified and then arranges for the Club to pay for hearing aids and/or for the fitting fees.

Hearing aids are a great step in maintaining your quality of life in spite in hearing loss but it's not the only thing you can do to make life a little bit easier. Many times, even once you have hearing aids things like talking on the phone and hearing the TV are still difficult. Here in Colorado you can also qualify for a free federally funded program called CaptionCall. CaptionCall uses advanced technology and a captioning agent to quickly provide written captions of what callers say on a large, easy-to-read screen. Learn more about how it works or request a phone here, or by calling 1-877-557-2227.

For additional support and information you can check out any of the links above or:

The Colorado Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCDHH)

The Denver 2017 Deaf Services Community Resource Guide

Hearing Loss Association of America - Denver Chapter