John M. Burkey—
Many of us struggle to find the right holiday or birthday gift for friends and loved ones. Buying to a person’s needs is almost always a good bet, and this also applies for those who have hearing loss. Offered here are some gifts for the hearing impaired.
Gift card to a quiet restaurant – Gift cards are all the rage. Those who frequently give them, however, have likely found that they are not one-size-fits-all. For instance, people with hearing loss enjoy dining out like anyone else, but their struggle to hear in surrounding restaurant noise can ruin the experience. This can be true with or without hearing aids. Buying a gift card to a quiet restaurant where the person can more easily hear and converse becomes a thoughtful gift.
A gift of your time and your ears – Not hearing or understanding can be real issues at the doctor’s office, bank, and in a variety of other situations. Offering to be available as a second set of ears during these important discussions can fill a real need. This can be a great gift from young adults who have plenty of time but little money.
Amplified stuff – Amplified telephones, extra loud alarm clocks, and a variety of other gadgets allow the user to increase the volume to the level needed. Browse the options at hearing product websites such as harriscomm.com.
Wireless headphones – This is a good gift for people who struggle to hear the television. The system includes a small transmitter that plugs into the audio output jacks on the television and a set of earphones compatible with the transmitter. The headphones are adjustable independent of the television volume. By covering the ears, they also tend to block surrounding sound that might interfere. These are available at hearing product websites and some electronic stores.
Sound blocking earplugs or earmuffs – Many hearing losses are the result of exposure to loud noise. This can occur at work or be the result of loud recreational activities such as shooting, woodworking, or using a lawn tractor. A gift of earplugs and earmuffs can help to prevent further damage. There are also electronic earmuffs that will block only loud sounds. These are popular with hunters. Look for earplugs and earmuffs at home improvement centers and firearm retailers.
Hearing aid batteries – People who own hearing aids often fuss about the need to buy batteries. A gift of batteries can be an appreciated change. Hearing aid batteries are sold in many places including drugstores, groceries, and big box retailers. Make sure you buy the right size for their devices.
Hearing aids – Many people who could benefit greatly from hearing aids can’t afford to buy them. This can be especially true for those who are retired and living on a fixed income. While hearing aids are an expensive gift, it is one that is frequently chosen for an aging parent who has hearing loss. It is a gift of hearing to the parent. What’s more, it is a gift for the family in that they do not have to repeat, speak up, or hear a blaring television.
A book about hearing loss – Those new to hearing loss are rarely well prepared. Even long-time hearing loss sufferers can have misconceptions or fail to understand their options. A consumer health book with basic information about hearing loss, prevention, medical treatments, hearing aids, and other assistive devices is almost always useful.
Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) membership – One final gift idea would be a one-year membership to the HLAA. This organization offers both information and support. Membership includes a subscription to the Hearing Loss Magazine and access to their support group network. Other benefits are listed on their website.
John M. Burkey is the director of audiology at the Lippy Group for ENT in Warren, Ohio and author of The Hearing-Loss Guide: Useful Information and Advice for Patients and Families.