Hearing Loss

Care & Treatment

Most treatment for hearing loss in older adults involves improving communication and devices that increase sound, such as hearing aids. 

Hearing Assistance Devices

  • Microphones and transmitters that send sound to a receiver and headphones or earpieces. These are often called pocket talkers.
  • Small personal devices that increase sounds close to the person and decrease background noise.
  • Telephone ringers that increase the volume of telephone rings or make the phone vibrate or flash a light. Text (caption) telephones are also available.
  • Closed-caption televisions and vibrating and flashing devices such as alarm clocks and timers, smoke alarms, doorbell alerts, and motion sensors.

Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are the most common device that people with hearing loss use. The devices can improve the ability to understand conversation. Getting a hearing aid early can help a person get used to it and reduce the impact of hearing loss.

Working with a healthcare professional trained in audiology can help make sure that the hearing aid fits and the settings are adjusted as needed.

A hearing aid is just one part of treating hearing loss. The other is a “hearing rehabilitation program.” This program includes counseling about hearing aids and suggestions for communicating with others. Programs are typically included in the cost of the hearing aid.

Sometimes people whose hearing could improve don’t use hearing aids because of:

  • Problems handling the small devices
  • Thinking the aid is not needed
  • Dementia
  • Cost concerns

Medicare and other health insurance plans generally do not pay for hearing aids and other such devices. However, some Medicare Advantage plans and state Medicaid programs do help with these costs.

Choosing the Right Hearing Aid

There are many styles of hearing aids. Hearing aids may hang behind the ear or be fitted inside the ear. The best style for a person depends on:

  • The amount of hearing loss
  • Needed services
  • Ability to use the hearing aid

Cochlear Implants

A cochlear implant is an electronic device surgically placed in the ear of a person with moderately severe hearing loss that hearing aids cannot help. The implant sends sound directly to the cochlear nerves. Medicare programs and insurance companies often pay for the surgery.

Implants can help a person:

  • Hear environmental sounds
  • Understand speech better
  • Use a telephone
  • Enjoy music again


Last Updated May 2023

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