Why rechargeable hearing aids? Problems with mobility: YES! Saving money: NO!
Saving money by not buying hearing batteries at first seems like an attractive option – and there are several newer model hearing aids which feature rechargeable batteries – at an additional $150-$200 per aid. And there are other things to consider before you commit to choosing this option.
First is your lifestyle: despite manufacturer claims of a “full day’s wear”, that full day will likely be only 8 or so hours. If you work all day and want to go out to dinner in the evening, you’ll likely find your hearing aids will be dead just as you’re ready to head out for the evening.
Second is travel: even those who only go away a couple of times a year will need to remember to bring along their charger. We’re not yet at the point where you can just ‘plug in’ like you might do with a smart phone. If you’re dashing out of the house to attend a funeral or emergency, odds are you’re going to forget that charger at home – and for major hearing aid manufacturers, you can’t just buy these at the local big box store.
Third is savings: if you get about 4 days out of a battery, you’ll use around 90 batteries a year. An 80 count package of high quality Rayovac batteries is about $27 so your total yearly battery expense is under $30. If your recharger is broken or left behind at a motel somewhere, you’ll spend more than a couple of years’ worth of batteries to replace it.
And there’s more: those hearing aids with a replaceable cell require that you buy a new cell yearly for $30+ per cell. Added to the cost of the charger, over a 5 year period this equates to about $36/year for rechargeability. You can buy the batteries for about the same price….
Newer aids use lithium ion cells. Due to the bio-hazard, these are fused inside the aid and are not user serviceable. These cells have a finite lifespan: about 3.5 – 4 years maximum. If your aids are out of warranty, this will mean an out-of-warranty ‘repair’ charge of $300 or more per aid just to get the batteries changed in an otherwise perfectly functional aid.
If you have physical problems…
However, for those with mobility issues – Parkinson’s Disease is an example – being able to just ‘drop’ a hearing aid into a charger and not worry about those tiny batteries can be a true blessing. For those with tremors, regardless of the variety, we’d strongly recommend this – and we’ll encourage you to spend the extra to eliminate one more barrier for you.
As the technology improves, you can expect to see newer hearing aids with a longer recharge life – as well as better handling on replacement issues. There are also a few models on the market now that offer both battery and recharger options but they’re still in their infancy and won’t be truly ‘ready for prime time’ for a couple of more years.
Think before you decide, particularly when it comes to rechargeables. The wrong choice could have consequences!