I first noticed my hearing loss when I was in my early 30s, but I didn’t do anything about it till I was 63. Why did I wait three decades? The cost of hearing aids was one reason. A second was that many people—including audiologists—warned me that hearing aids would help but would never restore normal hearing and would be least useful in noisy environments like restaurants and parties where I struggled the most.

When I got my first pair of hearing aids in December, I couldn’t have been more surprised—in a good way. First of all, my insurance plan paid $500 per aid, or $1,000 for the pair. That still left me to pay more than $2,500 out of pocket for the two aids, but it helped. And the sound quality of my aids is far better than I expected. Imagine reading by flickering candle light. Now imagine that someone has turned on a fluorescent light. It may be a harsh glare, but it sure is easier to make out the words on the page. That’s sort of what it’s like to hear with aids.

As for the failure of hearing aids to help when there’s background noise—I think it’s been overstated. My experience is that they help, and that with them in, I have about as much difficulty as someone with good hearing in the same situation.

Shortly after I got my aids at the Center for Hearing and Communication in New York, where I live, I got a call from San Francisco saying my 90-year-old father was in the hospital with congestive heart failure. I didn’t need to ask the doctor to repeat herself. I flew out and I spent five days listening to my dad expound on his personal philosophy and discuss his last wishes. I didn’t just listen to him. I heard him. That’s something you can’t put a price on.

– CHC Client