Because of the advertising and messaging around hearing aids and hearing care in general, many people tend to think of hearing aids like a commodity, in which regardless of where or how you get one, or which one you get, the outcome is much the same. When it comes to treating your hearing loss however, it is not that simple.
To be properly fit with hearing aids, there are four key steps that need to be taken.
A comprehensive hearing evaluation,
Selection of the “right” hearing aid,
Accurate and appropriate fitting, verified to your prescription, of the correct hearing aid, and
Comprehensive aural rehabilitation and follow-up after the hearing aid fitting.
Last month we covered the importance of a comprehensive hearing exam, and how “free hearing tests” aren’t all they are cracked up to be. This month we are going to talk about how important it is to make sure that you and your audiologist are selecting the RIGHT hearing aid for you- your hearing loss and your lifestyle needs. Selecting the right hearing aid is dependent on the clinical recommendation by the provider, which is based on your hearing loss, your needs according to your lifestyle, and what additional features hold value for you. You may already know that there are literally over a hundred different brands, models, and styles of hearing aids available…how do you choose? Quite simply…YOU don’t have to. That’s where WE come in.
As providers, we spend hundreds of hours every year training on the technology to treat hearing loss. We take your diagnosis, the detailed information we collect regarding your individual hearing challenges (like the fact that you can’t understand your grandchild on the phone, or that raising the volume on the tv doesn’t actually help you hear it any better), your cognitive ability, your dexterity, the type of environments you are in every day, the activities you do, how comfortable you are with technology like cell phones and computers, and your budget and we make a recommendation that will assure the best possible outcome for you. The best providers work with multiple hearing aid manufacturers so that they have the greatest number of choices, and they thoroughly understand how each of the myriad of features work within each brand and technology level so they can maximize those features for you. The “right” hearing aid must fit well, have the appropriate features and technology options, and provide excellent value.
If you are an active and social person…you love to eat out with your friends, have frequent family gatherings, and enjoy going different places and meeting people, you will need a hearing aid that has directional microphones, significant noise reduction and impulse noise control, just to name a few of the features you would find very valuable. If you end up with a hearing aid that does not have these features, you will certainly hear and understand better, but you will not be comfortable in those challenging noisy environments. This doesn’t mean you don’t have a good hearing aid…it means you don’t have the RIGHT hearing aid. When selecting hearing aids, your provider will take all of the information gathered during the evaluation and make a recommendation that will endure that you are successful in all of the different environments you are in every day. After the selection, it is also the provider’s job to make sure that your carefully chosen hearing aids are appropriately fit to your prescription, and that both the physical and acoustic fitting is verified for accuracy. More on that next month!