Sam Bauman: Hearing aids for $20? They work surprisingly well
August 19, 2013
As most of my friends know, I wear hearing aids, the result of too many rides in inadequately pressurized flying wrecks around North Africa chasing the news. I realized I'd lost most of my natural hearing when I began repeating "What did you say?" to people. My Naples doc said I'd be deaf by 50. It didn't get that far, but I did drop $1,800 at Costco for a pair of fancy hearing aids. Later the VA acoustic people in Reno said it was time for an update. So they came up with a snazzy pair with a higher cost. They work fine.
All of which leads me to the subject of $19.90 (plus $5 S&H) "boosters for you ears," as the full-page ad in the Nevada Appeal insert USA Weekend proclaimed.
Twenty dollars for a "sound amplifier?" Not a hearing aid, a definition never appearing in the ad. Probably some federal law about it.
I was intrigued, as any journalist would be after laying out big money for hearing aids. "Get back in the game and hear everything you've been missing," reads the ad headline. Lots of copy extolling the virtues of the unnamed sound amplifier.
So I sent $25 to Four Corners, the advertiser. Three weeks later I had the product. I charged it up I inserted it in an ear (no left or right) after removing my old aids. It didn't fit too well (it comes with three adapters that plug into the ear passage), but surprise of surprise. It works (I'm wearing it right now).
Yes, it blasts sound into the ear passage. Loud and fairly clear. Two of them might actually do a fair job of amplification. But while the sound is loud, it isn't quite as clear as with my regular aids. I asked a couple of acoustic-aid sellers about them, and they would only say that it's amplification but not the selective way the expensive units can be modified.
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I figured I might as well look up these unnamed aids on the Internet and search for "low-priced hearing aids." I was astounded by the number of aids available for less than $350 and the dozens of listings for aids for $20 and up.
So what do I unscientifically say about the $20 units?
If you're on a tight budget and can't handle the nearly $2,500 the professionals charge, you might want to try a pair of these out. You probably won't get the quality of the more expensive units, but you'll hear better. I tried the one unit at the Galaxy cineplex in Carson City, and it did help with some of the softer passages. If you don't want to try the $19.90 unit in the American Profile insert, go to the Internet.
The "Grease" rock musical is on stage at the Eldorado in Reno.
Seniors will enjoy this lively revival of the musical and get a $5 off on show tickets. The cast of 30 or so (they move so fast it was hard to count) give this cleaned-up version plenty of energy, and it's good old times all over again.
LOSING A FRIEND
Bob Thomas passed away a few days ago, as Nevada Appeal readers know from his self-penned obituary. He was a good friend, and Guy Farmer and I shared many a political lunch with him. And he often picked up the check, as well as the heat of politics. He was a fine friend.
Sam Bauman writes about senior issues for the Nevada Appeal.