Purchasing hearing aids can be a daunting task.
Things to consider and questions to ask are:
What are the qualifications of practitioner? A strong academic background and years of experience are preferable. Currently, the graduation requirement for an audiologist is the doctorate degree. Hearing aid dispensers are not required to have advanced degrees.
How do I know what model is right for me?
The hearing aid should meet your lifestyle needs. A more active lifestyle places more demands on hearing and listening than a sedentary lifestyle. How often you watch TV, use the phone, attend church, social functions, and movies need to be considered. The level of difficulty you experience in these situations need to be taken into account. In addition, the hearing aid should not have to be set at or very near maximum to provide adequate amplification or loudness. The hearing aid should have the features you need; directional microphones for noise reduction, noise reduction circuitry in addition to directional microphones, speech enhancement, and comfort of fit. For those with dexterity problems removal handles or notches and a larger battery are considerations. A history of ear surgery or malformation of the ear may rule out the fitting of some styles of hearing aid due to size and fit requirements. A rechargeable model may be a consideration for those with dexterity problems or for those who feel it may be more convenient not having to change out batteries. There is also wireless technology available that allows some models of hearing aids to connect to smart phones, computers and mp3 players.
What can I expect at the fitting?
1)Completion of a questionnaire and interview to determine areas of difficulties and needs. Your responses will be used to help counsel you in expectations and in adjusting to the use of hearing aids. Although included here, this step is typically completed prior to the fitting appointment. 2)There should be a verification process to ensure that the devices selected meet the needs of your hearing loss. These probe microphone measures include Real Ear Measurement (REM) or Speech Mapping. In addition, the hearing aids should be fit to make sure they do not overamplify to uncomfortable levels. 3)You should practice insertion and removal of the hearing aid until mastered. 4)If there are controls for volume and programs, manipulation of these should be mastered also. You should have a clear understanding of how and when to use these controls. The controls are often not initially enabled for first time users. This is to simplify and build confidence in the use of the hearing. The controls can be enabled at a later date. 5)When and how to change the battery is important. If a battery is installed incorrectly it will not work, worse yet, it may damage the hearing aid. It is important that this step is mastered. 6)Cleaning the hearing aid should be covered in the first or second visit. Keeping a hearing aid clean and dry goes a long way toward minimizing breakdowns. Most hearing aids have a wax filter. This keeps wax from getting into and damaging the speaker. In many cases, changing a clogged trap will resolve the problem of a hearing aid not working.
Ask questions if you are unsure about what was covered. We understand this is a new experience for many and we want you to be comfortable and confident. You will be scheduled to return for follow up and ask that you use the hearing aids in a variety of situations. Write down both the benefits received and the areas that that need attention. This information helps to provide a more accurate fine tuning of the hearing aids to meet your listening needs.
At Gardner Audiology, we strive to remove barriers to better hearing and to make acquiring better hearing a pleasant experience.