Many people with hearing loss don’t seek help because they don’t want to acknowledge a handicap or they don’t think hearing aids are effective.

Decades ago, before digital technology, many hearing-aid wearers felt the devices were more trouble than they were worth. But modern aids are technological marvels that identify and amplify sounds you need to hear while suppressing other noise. Bluetooth technology lets them directly transmit sound from TVs, phones, and computers, and helps aids worn in each ear to communicate with one another to enhance audio quality. Many people with hearing loss can wear tiny models that are hidden completely within the ear canals, without paying a hefty price.

Hearing aids can’t fully compensate for hearing loss the same way that eyeglasses restore 20/20 vision. They are rehabilitative tools that can help wearers fulfill their best hearing potential. But this potential varies and depends on the nature and extent of their hearing loss. Some hearing aid wearers can hear voices but can’t always understand the words being spoken. This is particularly the case for those who suffer from high-frequency hearing loss or who have damage to their auditory system. For them, the benefits of hearing aids may be limited.

Although hearing aids can’t restore normal hearing, they have improved the lives of millions of people—enabling them to use their senses more fully and communicate more effectively. Many first-time hearing-aid wearers are surprised at the improved quality of their lives.

Another reason to periodically get evaluated for hearing loss or to address a known problem: Research indicates those with untreated hearing loss have a far greater risk of developing dementia or other cognitive decline.

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