ASSESSMENT OF NEEDS
Our audiologist will begin the selection process by conducting an in-depth consultation with you to learn more about your lifestyle, your expectations, your personal preferences and your thoughts on any previous experiences with hearing aids. Your hearing test results, along with this information, will help the professional pull together some options for you to review.
HEARING TEST RESULTS
The degree of your hearing loss will determine which styles may work best for you, with smaller models generally suited for milder hearing loss. Larger models of hearing aids will work for any degree of hearing loss, including severe or profound. The shape of your hearing loss may also determine the best model for you. For example, a RIC with an open fit works very well for gently sloping losses that mainly affect the higher frequencies, while a BTE with an earmold is a good option for a steeply sloping loss. If your hearing loss is worse in the mid-frequencies than it is in the lower and higher frequencies, then you may need some advanced hearing aid features to best accommodate your hearing loss.
When considering your hearing aid, it is important for the professional to get a picture of the lifestyle you desire. You may have gradually avoided certain environments and social situations as your hearing loss worsened. Now is the time to think about what you’d like to be able to do with the help of your new hearing aids! For example, if you spend your evenings talking on to family and friends on the phone, you’ll want a hearing aid that works well with your phone.
Generally, more advanced digital hearing aids are designed for people who encounter many different listening situations with varying degrees of background noise. For sedentary people who are mostly at home with little background noise, basic models may be recommended.
There are many different types of preferences that can affect hearing aid selection. Do you want hearing aids that are nearly invisible, or would you rather have something large enough that allows you to pick a bright color and show off your style? Do you prefer to have control over the volume of your aids or would you prefer to have automated technology that changes it for you? Do you want gadgets, like remote controls and wireless accessories for your hearing aids? Your preferences may be affected by your level of manual dexterity. Will you be willing and able to change a small battery more often or would it be better for you to have a rechargeable battery that saves you the hassle? These are just a few of the preferences that our audiologist will explore with you.
HEARING AID SELECTION
After you’ve discussed your needs with our audiologist, you will generally be presented with a few recommended options at different price points. In some cases, you might have the opportunity to wear a demonstration hearing aid for a few hours or a few days to try out. Once you’ve made your decision, our audiologist will order your selection and schedule you to come back at a later date for the initial hearing aid programming. If you’ve decided on a custom-fit ITE style or a BTE with earmold style, our audiologist will take an impression of your ear canal to send in with the order.
ADJUSTING TO YOUR HEARING AIDS
Adjusting to hearing aids takes time. Some people only need a day or two but most people need a few weeks to a few months to adjust to using hearing aids. The important thing to remember is to wear them, even if just for a few hours the first day, an hour longer the following day, and so on until you are wearing hearing aids all day.
During this time of adjustment, you’ll want to see your audiologist for as many follow-up visits as you need to fine-tune the sounds you’re hearing, adjust the fit in your ear and talk about the situations that are most challenging for you.
Hearing aids work extremely well when fitted and adjusted properly. They should be comfortable to wear and provide good sound quality. It is important to remember that hearing aids do not restore normal hearing and are not as good as normal hearing. At first, you will be aware of hearing aids in your ears and your voice will sound “funny.” The quicker you ramp up to wearing them all day, like you would wear a pair of eyeglasses, the faster your brain will re-program itself to ignore the sounds that are meaningless to you. Before you know it, you’ll only be able to hear the refrigerator humming if you concentrate and listen for it!