How to Deal with Old Hearing Aids

More than 350 million people worldwide have hearing loss that is disabling. That could be a lot of hearing aids! These days, with the fast and furious technology advancements being made in so many industries there are a lot of “gadgets” we have that require periodic updating like our cell phones, computers, televisions, eyeglasses and so on. The hearing care industry is no different, so if you have an old hearing aid because you’ve recently gotten a more modern one, we want to help make you aware of options you have to dispose of your older equipment.

Recycle

There is a listing of centers that will be happy to accept your old hearing aids to recycle them into new and improved versions. The Lions Club maintains centers in both the US and Canada. As you may know, the Lions are well known for their community support programs, as well as their investment in sight, hearing and diabetes health issues. For a listing of their Hearing Aid Recycling Program (HARP) Centers, click here, please. They have centers in many states, and if you’re interested, you can reach out to the Lions to determine how you can establish a center in your state. Just contact their Legal Department to begin your process.

Donations

As we well know, our hearing aids didn’t come cheap, and there are many people who could benefit from an aid; however, they can’t afford one. Our donations may also be tax deductible depending various tax status; however, be aware that the value is going to vary based on your aid and the charity accepting your donation will likely not provide you with a value. As we mentioned above, the Lions Club will be happy to receive a gift. Also:

  • The Miracle-Ear Foundation will take your donation at any of their locations; however, they will only accept their brand.
  • Hearing Charities of America will take a mail-in donation, and they will either repair the hearing aid, or they will use them for cash that helps to purchase new aids for individuals who need them. So, this is a charity for donating as well as a resource if you need a hearing aid and can’t afford one.
    • Audicus is a partner of the Hearing Charities of America, and they also make hearing aids available to those who need them.
  • Starkey Hearing Foundation is another international charity dedicated to providing individuals with the gift of hearing. They will also accept mailed-in donations and provide a link for you to download a receipt for tax purposes.

Your hearing care specialist is another resource for donation locations.

Flip Side of Donating

If you are someone who needs a hearing aid and is considering using one that has been donated, please be aware of the following:

  • Be sure you’ve seen a hearing care expert so you will know exactly what features to shop for
  • Inspect it thoroughly for any potential defects
  • Be sure it’s comfortable to wear
  • A donation from any of the referenced associations are clean and sanitary
  • Take the aid to your local hearing care professional to have the item checked, and properly fitted for your unique ear

Batteries

Some batteries have mercury in them, and others don’t. If your battery does not include mercury, you can just toss it in the trash; however, batteries that contain mercury should be handled more cautiously. Mercury is considered a hazardous waste. You can usually determine which is the case, by looking at the writing on your battery. If your battery has mercury, it should be disposed of safely at a recycling center that accepts mercury. If you have difficulty finding a recycling center in your area, many locations that sell mercury batteries will allow them as well. Aids that are more likely to contain mercury are ones that use size ten batteries, are older digital instruments as well as high power aids. Here are a few tips for increasing the life of your battery use:

  • After you peel off the sticky tab wait one or two minutes for the battery to air out. Hearing aids are airtight and allowing the battery a few minutes of oxygen will enable it to activate fully.
  • Store batteries in a humidity free area and they do not belong in the refrigerator.
  • Keep your batteries dry. If you have been exercising or sweating, remove the aid and wipe the battery with a tissue to absorb any moisture. Letting them remain wet or damp will encourage rust that reduces the battery life and may also damage your hearing instrument.

You can also consider keeping your old hearing aid as a backup while you are adjusting to your new equipment. They can also be available to you in the event of an emergency. Be sure to discuss this with your hearing care expert so that he/she can advise on your use of the older technology.

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