Saturday, December 02, 2017

Is it just denial?

When we have a problem with our eyesight, we head off straight to the opticians to get it checked out. Imagine living in a world where everything looked blurred - we would not put up with it.

When it comes to hearing though, we take a different stance.

In his book, Michael Burke says that most people will spend up to 7 years in denial before admitting they have a problem with hearing. Like many I used to say that I could hear well enough even though I knew deep down that it wasn't true.  It wasn't seven years but could well have been three.

However, there are two important differences between the solutions for sight problems and hearing difficulty.

1. When you get a pair of glasses to correct your sight, the improvement is immediate. You put your new glasses on and, as if by miracle, the world becomes clear and sharp again. 

That is not the case with hearing aids. When you first wear them, the world becomes a noisy place where you hear things that you have missed for awhile. In my case it was things like a running tap or pots clattering in the kitchen that just sounded harsh, brittle and plain awful.

The brain needs time to adjust to coping with those new sounds.

I'm told the acclimation period can last from a few weeks up to six months. With perseverance though, it will happen and the brain will deal appropriately with those sounds that need to be suppressed. However, some people apparently give up before that happens and prefer to put their hearing aids in the drawer.

2. You can buy a pair of glasses from e.g Specsavers  for 59 euros and they will even throw in a second pair for free. 

If you want designer frames and better quality lenses, you can still get away with paying just a few hundred euros. Spanish opticians tend to charge more but only sell premium priced lenses like those from Essilor or Zeiss.

Now Specsavers don't sell hearing aids in Spain but looking at their British prices, they range from £495 to £2,895 for a pair. Boots the Chemist sell hearing aids ranging from £2,195 to £3,195 for a pair. That is a huge difference to the price of their glasses.

Is it any wonder then that, 60% of hearing aid wearers in the UK, have free (on loan) National Health aids. We are not so lucky here in Spain, there are no free hearing aids for us.

GAES, who are the market leaders in Spain, do not advertise their prices online but I imagine that they start at well over 1,000 euros a pair. Digital Hearing, where I went. sell aids from 1,090 to 2,200 euros a pair.

For people with limited income, the cost it prohibitive. It is not so much, "I don't need hearing aids" more "I can't afford them".  These people are not in denial, they simply  prefer to have food on the table. That is a great shame because, with impaired hearing, the world is a poorer place to live.

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