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Old 21-10-2009, 13:20   #1
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Lifespan of Hearing Aids Around Salt Water

My wife and I share the cruising dream and are about 8 years from my retiring from the military.

One problem that keeps bugging me is that she wears hearing aids in both ears. Her hearing is pretty good with them and she can get along and read lips without them for short time periods. This obviously presents a few problems in a salt-water environment. Salt water spray, an errant wave in the cockpit or even the persistent corrosion that naturally takes place in any electronic device subjected to the marine environment could destroy these devices.

I have thought of asking her to wear only 1 hearing aid while underway and leaving the aid for the other ear safely below decks- thus reducing the likelihood of damage to both. Keeping the devices in a sealed container with desiccant crystals as much as possible when not in use could prolong their lifespan. Perhaps it will be necessary to have her go without whenever we are at sea. We may be able to procure some spares between now and when I retire as she gets them replaced every 5 years through Tricare Prime. Water-resistant shields are another option.

It seems that with many seniors cruising the waterways of the world, that this issue would have been brought up by now.


Thanks for any input.
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Old 21-10-2009, 14:11   #2
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My own hearing is failing bit by bit. I went for some testing about 2 yrs ago and was recommended to be fitted with hearing aids. I was having difficulty in speech discrimination in noisy surroundings, but could do perfectly fine with a bunch or... say again, or... could you repeat that.

Hearing women is more of a challenge than deep resonant male voices.

I got the aids and hated wearing them, but they did act like mini public address systems making the world louder. The speech discrimination was not terribly improved. I have BTE open fit which are similar the blue tooth devices people use for their phones but much small and the speaker is inside the canal on a tiny wire. They are reasonably secure, and reasonably a pain in the ass and unless communication is required I take them out.

I was / am concerned about losing them overboard but never thought about sail air. They only have a service life of three years I think and then will be replaced with the latest and the greatest. I am not terribly concerned are that, but I think you can get insurance. If she needs them to communicate, I would use them, BOTH because hearing in more than 2x as good with both in place.

Good luck.
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Old 21-10-2009, 15:00   #3
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Originally Posted by defjef View Post
Hearing women is more of a challenge than deep resonant male voices.
Heh . . . I can just hear all of the crafty men who read Cruisers Forum now, "I swear to you, sweetheart, my ears just can't pick up the frequency of your voice!"


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Old 21-10-2009, 15:46   #4
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My hearing aids lasted from two to three years. The price of the different types is somewhat like the prices of swimsuits, ie. the smaller they are the more they cost. Only wearing one hearing aid at a time will, indeed, double the life of the pair, BUT, one ear is the dominate ear, so sometimes you hear better.
I stored the aids in a dehumidifier when not in use but was very concerned about my watch keeping as a singlehandler and not being able to hear any alarms because the hearing aids were not working or not in my ears. Always carry some ziplock bags to put them in when the dinghy ride becomes more boisterous or it rains like heck.
In the Caribbean there were two places to repair or replace hearing aids. In Trinidad there is the Hearing Institute for the Hearing Impaired and the tech. received his training in Canada. In St Marten on the French side there was a lady working for the OPtical 2000 store, who has the testing computer in, I kid you not, a pet store. Both places use hearing aids built in France.
A bigger challenge was to find replacement batteries. Sometimes I had to have friends Fed-Ex batteries from the states.
regards John
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Old 16-11-2009, 21:27   #5
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A good dryer would help with moisture control. Put the aids in it every night. BTW, Costco now sell hearing aids that are very good and less expensive.
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Old 16-11-2009, 21:31   #6
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get a back up pair, maybe not as small/good/expensive as her primary pair and store them in a vacuum bag with desiccant in case something happens to her's.

Redundancy in systems doesn't have to stop with the boat!

; -)
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Old 16-11-2009, 22:14   #7
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truant,
Do you wear them? I did the entire 9 years that I cruised.
After wearing hearing aids for 15 years, I looked at what Costco is pushing and decided I didn't want them, for several reasons. Always remember, you get what you pay for.

Remember that hearing loss is a medical condition to be treated by a licensed Audiologist. Not something to be fixed at the local discount store.

sardina,
I was a liveaboard for 1 year at Oyster Point and 12 years at Grand Marina. Maybe the 49ers will improve again.
I knew a cruiser who forgot and wore his hearing aids in the shower. Then tried to dry them out in the microwave! Had a puddle of plastic! There digial now so don't think a dryer would work,


The problem with a second pair for redundancy is that in most cases, the hearing loss changes. You need to have your hearing re-tested every two years and a new set may be required to handle the changes.

John
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Old 16-11-2009, 23:30   #8
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I've used hearing aids for 10 years now. My clients (I'm a psychologist) decided they didn't like it when I said "huh" too much and my wife insists that I hear her as well while we're sailing as when we're at home. Unless you take them swimming or if wear them when there's a lot of spray in the cockpit they should last just fine. They are designed for, and exist in an environment that is very close to 100% humidity with about the same salinity as sea water.

I agree that you get what you pay for. Digital hearing aids are amazingly complicated electronics in a very small space. However, in my opinion the most important part of the cost of hearing aids is the service after the sale. Getting them properly adjusted makes the difference between nearly normal hearing and putting up with an incredibly annoying pain in the butt.
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Old 22-11-2009, 16:54   #9
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Hearing aids and their sales/service is another area where many many older people are preyed on by the unscrupulous and sold bargain-basement equipment at king's ransom prices. Unfortunately, you don't 'get what you paid for' any longer. More and more, what you actually 'get' is the product that you researched beforehand and purchased at the best price after finding out what the product actually should be sold for, and not what some used-car-salesman lookalike at the hearing aid shop told you and sold you.

To be frank, the hearing aid business is just a shade this side of a racket, sad to say.
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Old 22-11-2009, 17:37   #10
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I completely agree with Not Sure. This is a completely unregulated industry, which attempts to address real medical needs, with commissioned salesmen as the main source for these products.

There is no comparison of these devices, or objective tests available to the public. All one has to do is google the various device manufacturers and observe the "lifestyle" marketing.

And where do they come up with their pricing?

Like eyeglasses, older people will all line up for hearing aids and there is no alternatives. These audiologists and hearing aid companies have you over a barrel.
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Old 22-11-2009, 17:42   #11
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To be frank, the hearing aid business is just a shade this side of a racket, sad to say.
You know the difference between a boat brocker and a used-car salesman? The boat brocker is to lazy to stand up to do his job.

Any reputable hearing aid office will give you a free screening and discuss hearing aid options with you. The hearing aids of today are digital. The testing is done on a computer and the digital componant is programed to match the results of the parameters generated from the hearing test. Multiple office visits are included in the agreed upon cost of the product, to insure satisfacation.
If the above dosen't happen or is not written in the contract, then refuse to do business with these people.
I started wearing them when I was 53 and at 69 I continue to use them with no problems.
So I'm curious "Not Sure" about your statement. Could you provide a personnal example to support your claim?

No, I don't sell them, I use them.

regards John
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Old 22-11-2009, 17:56   #12
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I completely agree with Not Sure. This is a completely unregulated industry, which attempts to address real medical needs, with commissioned salesmen as the main source for these products.

There is no comparison of these devices, or objective tests available to the public. All one has to do is google the various device manufacturers and observe the "lifestyle" marketing.

And where do they come up with their pricing?

Like eyeglasses, older people will all line up for hearing aids and there is no alternatives. These audiologists and hearing aid companies have you over a barrel.
Please provide your age and your personnal experiences on these subjects.

I'm appalled that you would make such sweeping statements based on your interpations of items found via a google scearch.

It appears that we 'older' people have considerable more common sense than that displayed by the rants of those younger than we.
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Old 22-11-2009, 18:03   #13
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I'm 62 and I have direct personal experience with this plus my best friend from college was the research director in ENT at a major university hospital.

In my opinion they are mostly, but not entirely hype and very over priced.
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Old 22-11-2009, 18:16   #14
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I'm 62 and I have direct personal experience with this plus my best friend from college was the research director in ENT at a major university hospital.

In my opinion they are mostly, but not entirely hype and very over priced.
We seem to be straying from the main topic of this thread.

But I'm curious, what would you suggest for a person with a heredity hearing lose?
I can hear with hearing aids, I cannot without them.

I chose to ignore your opinion so that I may continue to hear.

I worked for 40 years in the health care industry writing computer programs to deal with hospital charges/billing and insurance claims, so yes, medical cost are a rip-off. If you don't think that Hospitals are a for profit industry then you've got your head in the sand.

kindest regards John
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Old 22-11-2009, 20:01   #15
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Look, even the fanciest, tiniest, best-built digital hearing aid is essentially just one purpose-programmed CPU or IC with a mike and speaker element attached, plus a battery and case. The actual physical manufacturing cost HAS to be well below that of the cheapest cell phone (under $50) and then the rest is all a matter of how the company allocated product development, overhead, and generous commissions.

My friend's ex is an audiologist who was working for a group practice--and got heavy flack from her bosses every time she she told someone they didn't need hearing aids, because the damned things are SO profitable when it comes to the high-priced brands.

OK, hearing aids may not have the same "mass market" quantity production savings that cell phones do, but one IC and a half dozen tiny extras can only cost SO MUCH no matter what you make them of. There are parametric equalizers (devices to boost/reduce specific tonal ranges) built into most audio recording programs these days, there's no magic there. And hardware PEs for stereos that may be far larger than hearing aids--but then again, they also handle far more power and the box they are built in costs a lot more to start with.

Hearing aids? Yeah, right, they are reasonably priced. Just like the 14" thick $3500 mattress that the bed store wants to sell you. Lotsa profit left for many companies in many businesses.
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