A lot of my previous posts have been about the mental aspect and hearing loss and the challenges, but I'd like to talk about the financial implications of being hearing impaired, which I imagine may come as a surprise to many.
Since I was a kid, I always knew that my hearing loss was a considerable expense for my parents. I just didn't realize how expensive they were until I got older.
Apart from the considerable expense of raising a child (honestly I don't know how our parents did it, raising a child is SO EXPENSIVE!!!) There were also the additional costs of me being a hearing-impaired child.
Because I had specific education needs in grade school, which included; learning how to relearn how to write again in Grade 3. I would imagine this would have required extra tuition fees as I was in a "special class" for students with learning challenges. (I should ask my parents about this actually). Doing this in a private school which catered to this I imagine would have cost a pretty penny.
Doing hearing tests on a regular basis as well as the purchase of hearing aids on a frequent basis (as my mum was particular about me having access to the latest technology). All required financial expenditure at the time. I'm sure extra money that would have had to have been set aside whilst raising three children. This couldn't have been an easy feat
As a child, I didn't fully appreciate much it would have really cost to do all of this and the sacrifices required. But I had a sense that these were things that other parents didn't have to "deal with"
When I started to slowly take financial responsibility for my hearing aids and become fully conscious of the financial implications of being a hearing aid user. I realized this was an expensive venture. Especially as I always wore high-quality hearing aids and needed them due to the severity of my hearing loss.
I started to seek out alternative options with the first hearing aids I needed to get after I got my first job post-graduation. I initially went with my default method of reaching out to my audiologist in Nigeria ( I was living in England at the time) to get a quote for my hearing aids. the price made my eyes water. I figured, you know what since I live in England full time now and don't go to Nigeria as often, I should find a local audiologist. The added benefit of this was that If I had any hearing aids issues I'd take it directly to them instead of sending via courier to Nigeria (which I used to do in University, another added cost). This was how I found Click Hearing (via trusty Google). My experience with them was incredibly different from what I was used to in Nigeria and let's just say I realized having a monopoly in a country where people don't really have options is not a good thing.
After I got my first hearing aids whilst working, even though the price was much more competitive than the quote I got from Nigeria, let's just say I was a LOT MORE careful with my hearing aids and didn't play around with them at all. I mean I would get a slight panic attack whenever I couldn't find them.
There are also running costs to think about in the course of having hearing aids, repair costs when they malfunction (and out of warranty periods), when I accidentally damaged them, buying batteries for hearing aids (these were a significant expense for my older models) and additional accessories that I would need for my hearing aids needed to be paid for.
When I upgraded AGAIN two years ago ( I realized I can't be doing this every couple of years.. shout out to my Mum) I figured to go big or go home and got the best in class (I considered this an investment seeing as I wanted to get more years of usage out of them). This time the hearing aids had inbuilt batteries which were rechargeable. This meant no more battery purchases! yay! When I was done paying for the hearing aids and all other additional costs which was literally the cost of a small car, I made sure to ensure insurance was included with my purchase because if these hearing aids got lost? I wouldn't know what to do!
To understand how financially important these babies are. Whenever I was asked the question "if your house is on fire, what are the things you would take with you?" I know the ideal answer would be for me to say "my bible and my documents". However, it has always been my hearing aids and my documents. Even with my documents, I'm not too sure as everything is backed up online these days. But without question, it would be my hearing aids.
I do know of another hearing aid user, when she was much younger, had to pick between paying rent and buying a new pair of hearing aids. That's an incredibly difficult choice to make.
Another thing a lot of people don't realize is that loss of hearing CAN cost you money because you miss out on hearing important information or tidbits. I cannot count how many times that I did not hear the correct amount for the cost of something that was being said and I ended up paying more than I bargained for or I misheard a deadline and ended up returning something late and had to pay late fees.
The only flight I missed in my life and had to buy a new ticket (thankfully it was a local flight within Nigeria) was because I didn't hear how far our accommodation was from the airport when it was being communicated to my friend and myself.
The story behind this was that I had gone with a friend to the city of Abuja and left the return travel arrangements to her (in hindsight, wasn't a very smart move considering we both have very different attitudes to punctuality) I had assumed that the return trip back to the airport would take us the same amount of time it took us to get into the city when we initially landed, not realizing that the new place we were staying at, was further inside the city and we would need more time to get back to the airport.
The morning of the scheduled flight, I took my time, thinking we had enough time to get back to the airport and even assumed we would get to the airport earlier. Only when we were driving back to the airport, I realized that the trip was taking longer than I expected. I asked my friend what was going on. She then tells me, "oh A told us last night it would take about 20 mins longer" Well that was news to me, I had no idea, if I had heard her, I would have definitely asked that we left for the airport earlier.
Well, we got to the airport and the flight back to Lagos had literally just taken off. I couldn't believe it. I always prided myself on never missing a flight, even though I traveled a lot, and then my record was broken because I didn't hear a crucial piece of information. The options we had were to wait for the next flight which was six hours later or buy a new ticket to head back to Lagos in the next hour. We both decided to get a new ticket back to Lagos and after a weekend of lavish spending that was one cost, we did not anticipate. It wasn't pleasant at the time but definitely something I can laugh about now.
If there's one thing I really appreciate living in Canada for (over England) is that the government of Canada recognizes that living with a disability costs money and takes it into consideration when you file your taxes. You get some tax exemptions and also an RRSP (registered savings plan) specifically for individuals with disabilities with the government contributing to that RRSP. The government of Canada also gives $1,000 off the cost of a new hearing aid which was something I really really appreciated when I purchased my last hearing aids as this wasn't afforded to me in England.
In conclusion, hopefully, this sheds light on how people with disabilities have to budget extra funds to cater to things abled bodies individuals would not need to think about.
I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all Mothers a Happy Mother's Day! You are all superstars in every sense of the word and a special shout-out to mine!
Have a great week!