Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Hearing Loss and the Evolution of Hearing Aids

Contributed by Angela Bells

Hearing aids have come a long way over the centuries and advances in technology like connectivity and other innovations will also impact audio assistance devices. Hearing aids started out as rather large, cumbersome implementations. At least eighty percent of those living with hearing loss have reported they have troubles understanding others because they do not rely on a hearing aid to help them. Ear trumpets were used in the 17th and 18th centuries for those who had hearing loss. These were custom made for specific patients.

In 1898 the first electric hearing aid was invented. It was called the Akoulathon. It used a carbon transmitter to convert weak audio signals into stronger ones. The 1920s saw the vacuum tube hearing aid develop. This telephone transmitter turned speech into electric signals.
Major advances were made in 1948 when the transistor hearing aid was created. The device used transistors rather than vacuum tubes. It was in the 1970s that a hybrid analog-digital hearing aid came on the scene. It relied on a microprocessor. The mid-1990s saw the development of the digital hearing aid. These devices have become smaller and more powerful in the 21st century.

The following infographic provides information on the evolution of hearing aid solutions.


Although just one in six people with hearing troubles use a hearing aid to help them, at least 90 percent of cases can be improved through such devices. Looking back, the wearing of hearing aids has become less and less troublesome as technological and electronic advancements have made a positive impact on its development.

Hearing aids first began as ear trumpets in the 17th and 18th centuries. It wasn’t until 1898 that the very first hearing aid that used electricity was developed. The Akoulathon used a carbon transmitter to change weak audio signals into stronger ones that were easier to hear.
However, things really changed for those with hearing loss when the vacuum tube hearing aid was invented in the 1920s. This device was able to turn speech into electric signals.
The vacuum tube hearing aid was later modified to a transistor hearing aid, replacing the hot vacuum tubes with transistors. Since the 1970s digital hearing aids have been the most common device, becoming more compact and powerful in the 21st century. Thanks to changes in technology, hearing aids have become smaller and even more powerful nowadays! So if you know an older adult who could benefit from using a hearing aid, please share this information with them and encourage them explore hearing aid options!

Angela Bells is the community coordinator for small businesses across Canada. She loves writing blogs and enjoys riding her bike around town and otherwise spending far too much time at the computer!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Making Sense of Medicare and Health Care Coverages for Seniors

Contributed by Jim Vogel
You know that Medicare should be part of your retirement plan, but do you know how? Understanding Medicare, and all of the various parts and supplements plans, can be downright confusing. However, you need to sort through the chaos if you want to have the best health care coverage during retirement. So, to help you make some sense of the murky Medicare system, here are a few tips and resources you need to know about.


Decoding All of Medicare’s Parts


When you are planning for your future, Medicare can seem like a blessing. In fact, Medicare coverage can be invaluable for seniors in America, but you have to know how to get the right level of coverage. That means wading through all the various Medicare parts and options available to you. You can use an online Medicare plan guide to help determine what combination will fit your healthcare needs and figure out whether you need additional help from an insurance agent. This will give you a better idea of how the basic Medicare parts cover your healthcare needs and help you figure out the differences between Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage plans can offer added benefits and you may even be able to secure prescription drug coverage.


Understanding Medicare vs. Medicaid


If you are unfamiliar with government health care plans, then you may not know the differences between Medicare and Medicaid coverage. Medicare and Medicaid are both federally funded health care benefits, but the major differences are the eligibility requirements. Most adults over the age of 65 are able to sign up for Medicare coverage, whereas Medicaid is available to those who meet certain income requirements, regardless of age. However, some seniors are eligible for coverage under both health care plans. This dual eligibility depends not only on your income, but it can also hinge on the state in which you live. If you do qualify for dual coverage, Medicaid may help fill in some of the gaps left by your Medicare coverage, and it may help you reduce the amount you pay out of pocket for expenses.


Determining How Medicare Will Help You


Dual eligibility can be a plus for seniors, but neither Medicaid nor Medicare will fully cover your healthcare expenses as you age. On average, adults over the age of 65 will still shell out over $200,000 in healthcare costs from their own pockets. That’s a hefty price for many to pay, especially if you are no longer working. But you can prevent those rising healthcare costs from putting a damper on your retirement with financial planning. Factor that $200,000 price tag into your overall retirement investment planning, or open up a Health Savings Account to tuck away funds for retirement healthcare costs. By opting for an HSA, you can also avoid having your health savings taxed, which can add up during your retirement years.


Figuring Out How to Fill Medicare Coverage Gaps


Whether you choose basic Medicare or opt for a Medicare Advantage plan, you are still likely to have gaps in your coverages. Some seniors choose to fill those spaces by opting for Medigap supplemental insurance. As the name implies, Medigap policies help to bridge some of the financial gaps of your Medicare plan, but you still need to pay premiums and deductibles. Like Medicare Advantage plans, Medigap policies are offered by private insurance companies, so policy details and coverages will vary depending on your provider. Even with supplemental Medicare coverage, you still need to find alternative means for covering long-term care costs, as these expenses are not covered by Medicare. So, look into separate long-term care insurance or a long-term care financial plan that best fits your retirement needs.


Health care planning during retirement does not have to be as confusing as it seems. With the resources and helpful tips above, you should have all you need to have a basic understanding of Medicare, as well as other healthcare options. So, figure out which plan will work best for you and how Medicare will fit into your retirement plans.


When Jim Vogel became a caregiver for his aging parents, he was inspired to promote senior health and information. His goal is to highlight ways in which people can give seniors support to thrive throughout their golden years


Photo Credit: Pexels