If you have a loved one with hearing aids, you know how expensive they can be. Hearing aids are now complex and sophisticated devices. The best hearing aids can cost up to $7,000, and original Medicare does not pay any portion of the cost. (Some Medicare Advantage plans will cover part or all the cost of hearing aids, depending on the plan.)
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Can Hearing Aids Be Reused After a Death?
- Options for Getting Rid of or Recycling a Deceased Loved One’s Hearing Aids
The pricing of hearing aids is a significant deterrent and area of frustration for many people. About 37.5 million people have hearing loss in the US, and worldwide, that number is 466 million. Having access to affordable or free hearing aids would be life-changing for many of these children and adults throughout the world. But for people with original Medicare or other insurance, paying for hearing aids is a luxury they just can’t afford.
When someone dies, there’s much to do to allocate the person’s belongings. Some of those items, like hearing aids, might seem minor and like something you could simply throw away. However, your loved one’s hearing aids could be put to better use.
Below, we’ll cover the options available so you can make a wise choice in getting hearing aids into the hands of people who need them.
Can Hearing Aids Be Reused After a Death?
Hearing aids can absolutely be reused after death and, if at all possible, should be. If you’re in the market for hearing aids but can’t afford new ones, you can buy used ones from established companies. It’s also common for family members to give hearing aids to other friends or family who need them.
Regulations for used hearing aids
There are conditions for buying and selling refurbished hearing aids, due to federal regulations. Those include the following:
- Used or rebuilt hearing aids are required to have packaging and identification that the aid is not new.
- The person buying the hearing aids must have a medical evaluation from a doctor. They must complete the evaluation within six months before the sale.
- If you’re buying used hearing aids from someone other than an authorized dealer, you do not have to show proof of the evaluation, but it is strongly recommended. The risk of purchasing a hearing aid online or through an individual without an assessment is that you have no recourse if the hearing aid does not suit your needs. Some individuals will require a signed waiver if they don’t get an evaluation, but others do not.
Considerations if you’re buying a used hearing aid
Individuals buying used hearing aids will want to consider the following points and tips:
- Consider the fit. An in-the-ear style may not fit as well as a behind-the-ear model. In-the-ear style hearing aids are custom-fit to a person’s ear canal, and everyone’s ear canal is different.
- Think about the person’s comfort level with technology. Top-of-the-line hearing aids are computer-programmed for the individual and sync with smartphones for different environments and hearing conditions. A technologically advanced hearing aid may seem like a great option, but think carefully about who’s going to be using them. If you have a loved one who struggles with technology or gets easily confused by complex tasks, the hearing aids may not be effective.
- Will they be able to adjust to new technology? The frustration of the inability to maximize an aid’s potential might be enough for your loved one to abandon them altogether. If you can, give careful instruction on using the hearing aids, and if they aren’t going to work out, ask for them back so you can donate to someone who can use them.
- Have the hearing aids inspected and properly programmed. After purchasing used or refurbished hearing aids, the next step is to have them inspected, tested, and then programmed. There will be a cost for this service, but depending on how much you paid for the hearing aids, it may still be well worth it. Everyone’s hearing loss is different, and hearing aids are programmed via computer to the person’s specific hearing level, lifestyle preferences, and hearing choices.
Join Cake's monthly newsletter.
Learn all you need to know about end-of-life.
Options for Getting Rid of or Recycling a Deceased Loved One’s Hearing Aids
There are several options for getting rid of or recycling a deceased loved one’s hearing aids. If you’re the executor of the estate, you’ll need to treat hearing aids as an asset and plan accordingly. It’s possible that your deceased loved one designated a charity for the donation of their aids, and you’ll need to follow that directive. If not, you can choose what you consider to be the best method for donation, gifting, or selling the used hearing aids.
Multiple organizations around the country and internationally will accept used hearing aids to distribute to people in need. Many cities have donation drop-off sites, but there are other well-known organizations. If the organization is a non-profit, you might be able to take a tax deduction.
Lion’s Club International accepts donations of hearing aids at their regional locations. The hearing aids are then sent to their hearing aid recycling center, where the hearing aids are refurbished. Hearing aids may be sent to manufacturers, who then provide Lion’s Club with a credit towards purchasing new hearing aids for people who can’t otherwise afford them.
The Miracle-Ear Foundation
The Miracle-Ear Foundation will accept their brand of hearing aids as a donation. The foundation supplies hearing aids to adults and children who are unable to pay for hearing aids.
Hearing Aid Project
The Hearing Aid Project is a non-profit organization that coordinates donation centers across the country to provide hearing aids to low-income individuals. Donation centers collect the hearing aids, refurbish them, and then take applications for hearing aids.
Hear Now Program
The Hear Now Program is sponsored by the Starkey Foundation, whose purpose is to provide hearing aids, education, and programs across the world. Their comprehensive program partners with over 25 organizations across the globe to bring hearing to all ages.
World Wide Hearing
The World Wide Hearing organization provides hearing care and education in international areas without hearing clinics. Collections of donated hearing aids are distributed to developing countries that need hearing aids but can’t afford them. They also reduce the cost of hearing aids by 90%.
Hearing Aid Companies
Some hearing aid companies will accept used hearing aids for recycling. This listing outlines companies that have good reputations for high-quality hearing aids. If you have a hearing aid from one of these manufacturers, it might make sense to donate to the company that made them.
Give to a friend or family member
Giving hearing aids to a friend or family member may seem like a straightforward option—you have a friend or family member who needs a hearing aid or wants to upgrade. But hearing aids are not like a piece of clothing or shoes. The fit and programming are specific to the original owner. And so is the warranty, which will void that warranty if another person uses them.
However, if your loved one has died and a family member is in need, it is worth trying to see if the used hearing aid might fit. If it does, then the next step is to go to an audiologist or other trained hearing specialist to program the aids to the individual’s hearing loss specifications. Without this step, the person you gave the hearing aids to could become frustrated and abandon the idea.
Sell the Hearing Aids
Not every state permits selling used hearing aids, so you will want to check your state’s requirements first. You can peruse other sites to get an idea of the price for the specific model and condition of the one you want to sell. Sites such as eBay, Craig’s list, or other local sites are a good place to start. Include the following information to maximize your success:
- Manufacturer and model number (you might want to include a link to the manufacturer’s website with the model you are selling.)
- The age and condition of the hearing aid
- The type of battery
- The reason for selling the hearing aid
- If any kind of liability waiver is necessary to the sale of the hearing aids
What to do with Hearing Aids When Someone Dies
Hearing loss can have a devastating effect on someone’s life. If your loved one dies and they have usable hearing aids, you have options to help someone else in need. With the worldwide shortage of affordable hearing aids, there is no reason to leave them in a drawer or throw them away. Talk with other family members about the best way to give these valuable assets a new life.