Hearing aids are a life-changing treatment for millions of people who struggle with hearing loss. Hearing loss primarily presents itself in the older generations as it is common to develop hearing loss over time. However, this particular disability can manifest in any demographic. When it comes to hearing loss, the number one treatment is hearing aids.
Hearing aids are incredible devices that have life-changing properties for the people who need them. When a person experiences hearing loss, they typically experience their natural decibel threshold raising. Essentially, sound waves that are naturally present at a certain decibel are no longer recognized.
Let’s learn more about hearing loss, the different types of hearing aids, and where you can donate used hearing aids.
What Is Hearing Loss?
Sound itself travels in waves at specific frequencies. When it travels, it has a certain force or power. The power that sound waves present is measured in decibels. An easy example of this would be how the roar of a lawn mower’s engine can quickly drown out the sound of a cat purring as it sunbathes on the porch next to the yard. Both the purring and the sound of the engine are sounds with different decibel levels, and the engine’s sound is much higher, so it sounds louder.
For someone with normal hearing, their decibel threshold can be as low as zero. That means that they can hear very faint sounds, like the subtle crunch of snow underfoot or birds chirping in treetops yards above their heads. As a person begins to lose their hearing, the decibel threshold they naturally had begins to increase.
Suddenly, sounds that they used to understand are no longer recognizable unless they get boosted to an unnatural decibel level. Hearing aids help with boosting these sounds, so they become recognizable again.
Hearing aids take sound waves that our ears no longer naturally can recognize and boost those specific soundwaves to a new decibel threshold. There are two general types of hearing aids that you can acquire - and that’s prescription and over-the-counter hearing aids.
Hearing Aids, Prescription and Over-the-Counter
Prescription hearing aids are the most expensive of the two options and can have price tags in the thousand-dollar range. In fact, the cost of prescription hearing aids can be so substantial that it may be prohibitive for some individuals.
For the person who cannot afford the overall cost of prescription hearing aids over the counter, hearing aids can be a great option. The main difference between over-the-counter and prescription hearing aids is that over-the-counter will not be uniquely programmed to your specific needs.
These hearing aids are typically made with a mass market in mind and take on one-size-fits-all metrics to ensure that the largest number of people can benefit from them. Our over-the-counter hearing aid options, the EV1 and EV3, are the smallest in-canal hearing aids on the market and are a great option for people over 65 who have mild to moderate hearing loss. Our cutting-edge technology can also help filter out unwanted background noise, helping cut down on the degree of sound pollution you experience.
While it’s still possible to find quality over-the-counter hearing aids, prescription hearing aids are typically suggested for more severe degrees of hearing loss. They also have the advantage of being programmed to your specific needs, which means they can only boost the frequencies below your elevated decibel threshold.
The Importance of Donating Hearing Aids
For the person who needs a more powerful hearing aid than what an over-the-counter option can provide, getting prescription hearing aids could make a life-changing difference. However, the traditional method of getting these hearing aids may simply be cost-prohibitive. That’s where alternative options, like acquiring used hearing aids, can make a life-changing impact.
A used hearing aid may sound odd, seeing as how these devices are so personal. For many people, the concept may never have even occurred to them that their hearing aids could be donated and used by someone who cannot afford the traditional route.
A used hearing aid is a precipitation device that has been taken and refurbished for use by another individual. This process is fairly extensive. For instance, a hearing aid will spend most of its time being used by an individual, which means it must be completely sanitized if it is to be reused by a new person.
Not only that, but prescription hearing aids, as we discussed earlier, are specifically programmed for an individual's needs. This means that for them to be used by someone else, they must be reprogrammed to either a new prescription or kept at the old one.
When To Donate Hearing Aids
One of the most important aspects of donating hearing aids is the timing. For instance, these devices are not cheap whatsoever. The process of acquiring them isn’t cheap either. Most private insurances do not cover the majority of hearing aid costs; certain public services like Medicare and Medicaid simply do not cover any part of the process.
So how does it make sense to donate such expensive and involved pieces of technology? Well, to be honest, there are multiple times when this may be appropriate. Most hearing aids have a lifespan of around six to eight years, and this can typically be a software issue more than a hardware issue.
For instance, if you are in need of upgrading your hearing aids to stay with a certain level of performance or even making a jump from analog to digital, you’ll have an old set of hearing aids on your hands. This is a great time to donate. Another reality could be a change in your hearing loss that makes your current hearing aids obsolete.
There are also instances when by chance, you have hearing aids from past friends or family members. While true, it’s not often that you will have to make the decision to throw away your hearing aids or donate them; the fact of the matter is that needing to replace or opt for a new hearing aid isn’t uncommon. When that situation arises, donating your hearing aids can impact someone else in a life-changing way!
Where Do You Donate Your Used Hearing Aids?
The majority of the institutions that will take a used pair of hearing aids will be nonprofits or organizations that have a mission to provide life-changing services at an affordable price. Some national services, such as the Starkey Hearing Foundation, help thousands of people get affordable hearing aids. They not only take in used hearing aid donations, but they refurbish and provide these hearing aids to individuals in need who couldn’t afford the more traditional route of hearing treatment.
While it’s true that most audiologist offices will assist you in recycling your hearing aids, in receiving a tax-deductible receipt for your hearing aid donation, you must donate through a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit. This option is appealing for the tax break benefit and the simple fact that most nonprofits are on a mission to improve the world somehow, shape, or form. This can have a higher appeal to a potential donor than simply donating your devices to a for-profit entity.
Search By State
Another method of finding a hearing aid donation site is simply conducting an internet search via the state you live in. This is a pretty fast way to find out what businesses offer hearing aid donation as a service.
Once you have located the businesses in your state, you can quickly check their proximity to you. Many businesses or nonprofits may offer physical mailing addresses so that you do not have to travel to them. If you are concerned with getting a tax break for your donation, you should definitely be sure they are a 501(c)3 nonprofit before donating.
Donating hearing aids is a valid way to help impact and possibly even change someone else's life. Almost all states have regional centers where you can donate hearing aids, and there are national and even global nonprofits like Starkey Hearing Foundation that can provide this service.
“Although it may seem that using someone else’s hearing aids which have been given or donated to you, in many cases, Audien hearing aids provide a better, low cost solution. ” - Drew Sutton, MD, Board-Certified Otolaryngologist.