Hearing aids have improved a lot

They’re not your grandpa’s hearing aids. Today’s newest models range from the completely invisible — it sits deep in the ear canal for months at a time — to Bluetooth-enabled gadgets that open cellphones and iPods for hearing-aid users.

WASHINGTON — They’re not your grandpa’s hearing aids.

Today’s newest models range from the completely invisible — it sits deep in the ear canal for months at a time — to Bluetooth-enabled gadgets that open cellphones and iPods for hearing-aid users.

Now the maker of that invisible hearing aid is going a step further — attempting a swim-proof version. About 60 swimmers begin testing a next-generation Lyric next month, to see if stronger coatings can withstand at least three swims a week, allowing the device to repel the water that short-circuits regular hearing aids.

If so, expect to see it marketed to active seniors who increasingly find the pool a gentler form of exercise than pounding the pavement.

“It’s my preferred exercise,” says Kathy Burkhard, 62, of San Jose, Calif., who is anxiously awaiting the results. She already swims with her Lyrics, her ears bundled against the water with special earplugs, a water-resistant headband and a racer’s cap. “I do it well and I enjoy it and I wasn’t ready to give it up.”

It’s part of a quiet revolution in hearing technology, to increase the usefulness and comfort of devices that too many people still shun.

“Stigma is one of the biggest obstacles we face,” says Dr. John P. Weigand, audiology director at the State University of New York’s Downstate Medical Center.

More than 30 million adults in the U.S. have some degree of hearing loss. The National Institutes of Health says most could be treated with hearing aids yet only about one in five people who could benefit uses them.

Why? Many people simply don’t know, or accept, that they need one. Hearing loss can come at any age, from disease or genetics or not protecting your ears from loud noise. But it becomes more common with aging; federal statistics show one in three people older than 60 have hearing loss. And it can creep up, as often people first lose the ability to hear higher pitch before they notice wider problems.

Then there’s reluctance to try hearing aids because of the appearance — or because of longtime problems with sound quality, particularly the ability to hear well in noisy environments.

Just Posted

Ad firm says controversial billboards promoting Bernier’s party staying up

OTTAWA — The owner of billboards currently showcasing ads that seek to… Continue reading

14 year old and family need community support after teen hit by car

A 14 year old and his family need financial help after the… Continue reading

Police say someone fired paintballs at people outside drug consumption site in Lethbridge

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — Police in southern Alberta are investigating after they say… Continue reading

Is federal carbon tax killing jobs? Experts say answer isn’t ‘black and white’

REGINA — The Saskatchewan government says the federal carbon tax is killing… Continue reading

New book assesses Trudeau government’s record of living up to pledges

OTTAWA — A new book arriving on the eve of the federal… Continue reading

WATCH: Snakes, lizards and more at the Western Canadian Reptile Expo in Red Deer

The 10th annual Western Canadian Reptile Expo is this weekend in Red… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Tuesday and Sept. 3 The Tony Connelly Singers provide an opportunity to… Continue reading

A look at policy areas scrutinized by a new book on the Trudeau government

OTTAWA — A group of two dozen Canadian academics took a deep… Continue reading

Father of suspected B.C. killer seeks access to video taken before son’s death

VANCOUVER — The father of a suspected killer of three people in… Continue reading

US tech industry becomes hotbed for employee activism

SAN FRANCISCO — When Liz O’Sullivan was hired at the New York… Continue reading

Jolie shares pride in son Maddox, joining Marvel movie

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Angelina Jolie says she’s “so proud” that her 18-year-old… Continue reading

Extinction bites: countries agree to protect sharks and rays

GENEVA — Countries have agreed to protect more than a dozen shark… Continue reading

Trudeau and Trump hold face to face meeting on sidelines of G7 summit

BIARRITZ, France — Justin Trudeau met face-to-face with U.S. President Donald Trump… Continue reading

Study reveals new details of overseas Cold War intelligence effort by Canadians

OTTAWA — Canada enlisted citizens who travelled to Communist countries during the… Continue reading

Most Read