Hearing aids are not an off-the-shelf item and must to be customized to fit your individual needs. You need to work with a qualified hearing care professional to prepare for and have the most productive experience with new hearing aids. The following step-by-step guide can help as you go through the process:
Before your hearing test
Understand that during your first appointment, your hearing care professional will test your hearing, audit the results carefully, and discuss them with you. Make sure to bring a list of questions you need answers for as you discuss whether or not hearing aids are the right way to go for you.
Use the following questions as a starting point and come up with any others you need to ask:
What type of hearing loss do I have: mild, moderate, severe or profound?
How can hearing aids help in my situation?
Do I really need hearing aids for both ears, or can I get away with just one ear?
Which hearing aid is best for my needs? How can I balance features with cost?
What kinds of financing options do you have for hearing aid buyers? (State-funded programs, private insurance, credit arrangements, etc.)
After the Hearing Test
If the results of your hearing test come back normal, you may not need hearing aids at this time; the tests are still useful, however, as they give you with a baseline for any future hearing tests.
If the tests indicate you do suffer hearing loss, and that you might benefit from hearing aids, your hearing care professional will review your options with you.
In selecting a hearing aid, you’ll need to consider several aspects; make sure to discuss all of these areas:
Programmability – most hearing aids are digital and programmable; they can actually be programmed to match the needs of your exact type and level of hearing loss. This is crucial; if someone tries to sell you a hearing instrument right out of the box with no adjustment necessary, it most likely won’t work properly.
Style – hearing aids come in an ever widening array of sizes and styles. There are models that sit behind the ear, while other models that fit entirely within the ear canal. Consider the balance between functionality, price, ease-of-use and aesthetics while making your decision.
Wireless connectivity – several hearing aid models can hook up wirelessly to compatible smartphones. That way, you can discreetly adjust volume and settings, send phone calls directly to your hearing aids, and even stream music all without any wires or the need for a separate hearing aid remote control.
Other Advanced features – Many newer models of hearing aids have additional advanced features including: telecoils for phone calls, directional microphones that improve speech recognition, background noise reduction, environmental settings, etc. Decide if you really need all of these features, or if you just want them when looking at your hearing aid budget.
This may all seem confusing, but your hearing care professional is trained to help guide you through the decision-making process. Of course, if someone tries to rush or steer you to a decision without addressing your questions, that should be a red flag.
New hearing aids at home
Once you’ve selected your hearing aids and had them programmed by your hearing care professional, you’re ready to bring them home. When you get there, keep the following two crucial things in mind.
First, it’s unlikely you will fall in love with your hearing aids right away. You’ll suddenly be hearing sounds you haven’t heard in a while. This might seem jarring at first, and the overall sound will seem a little “off.” This is perfectly normal and, after a few weeks, will subside.
The best thing to do is start small while you’re at home. Put in your favorite movie and pay particular attention to the dialogue. Engage in one-on-one conversations in a quiet room. Try listening to music — pick out or follow certain instruments or voices.
Even though it may be uncomfortable at first, you should try to wear your hearing aids as much of the day as possible, putting them in when you wake up and taking them out before bed. This will speed up the adjustment process, and after a few weeks, you’ll be glad you put in the effort.
Also remember that your hearing aids can be adjusted, so if you continue to have difficulty hearing or adapting to the new sound, schedule a follow-up visit with your hearing care professional to fine-tune the settings.
Second, to ensure excellent, long-term performance, you must properly maintain and care for your new hearing aids. This means daily cleaning, proper storage, and managing your battery supply.
The truth is, you can make the new-hearing-aid process so much easier on yourself with the right tools and habits. Hearing aid cleaning kits, storage cases/sanitizers, and batteries can all be supplied, with tips, from your hearing care professional.
After a short adjustment period, you’ll be prepared to enjoy the all the benefits of better hearing. If you have any other questions about hearing aids, or the process of acquiring them, give us a call!