You have a hearing loss and the family is driving you crazy to get something done. But, you feel that one more thing added to your life will push you over the top. If this sounds familiar, I have some wonderful ideas for you!
First, get your hearing tested by an audiologist. He or she will check for wax in the canals, or medical causes for your hearing difficulty. What if your hearing loss can be treated medically and you were dragging your feet for nothing?
If the audiologist says nope, it is a permanent hearing loss, take a breath, you are just exploring options to improve hearing. Ask a ton of questions and write down the answers you get. You don’t need to rush into anything, just collect data. You may not be ready yet. Go home and count how many times in a day you ask people to repeat what they said. You can focus on how many times you misunderstood what someone said. See how loud the TV needs to be to hear compared to how loud your family likes it. Decide if you avoid talking on the phone because it is too hard to understand what someone is saying.
Try Out Hearing Aids for Free
If you decide to try out hearing aids, understand that you may return them (undamaged) within a set timeframe. Try them out, experiment and see what you think. Sit in the house; listen to family members and then take the hearing aids out and listen to the same family members. Jot down on paper what you noticed about the sound. Is speech clearer? Is it easier to understand that person? Is it louder or just clearer? Don’t stress out during the trial period. You want to make an educated decision about how your hearing can be improved so you are able to communicate with your friends and family more easily. Explore the aids in different environments like a kid would. A child would learn what the button on the hearing aid does, how to charge the aids and how to put them in the ears, all with gusto! Children love to learn new things, so why don’t we?
We adults get into the habit of thinking that we already know the important things and reserve little energy to absorb new ideas and processes. If you are willing to spend a few minutes each day learning about your hearing aids for one month, you can truly fall in love with them. The people you talk to who hate their hearing aids probably did not fully learn how to use, clean and adjust them. No wonder they are not happy.
There is usually a button to control the sound of the hearing aid. It is important to understand what it can do. Sometimes, the button controls volume and sometimes, the button adjusts the microphones and noise cancelation. The hearing aids are tiny computers that may be programmed just the way you like them. You may like to have many options to adjust the sound or you may want no-fuss hearing aids so you can put them into your ears and forget about them. Either way, the hearing aids can be “told” to do what you want.
Take Notes on Your Experience
During the trial period, it is important to write down your questions and describe the experiences you are having. Write down the difficulties and the improvements so they can be compared. Note how easy or difficult it is to put on the aids every morning. What sounds are too soft or too loud? Do you need to be able to adjust the hearing aids for outdoor activities or adjust them when the kids are too loud? All this information is important to share with your audiologist during follow-up appointments. The hearing aid settings will be changed according to your experience with the sound.
Practice with Assistive Technology
Most of the newer hearing aids have the ability to be adjusted through a telephone app. The hearing aid app expands your ability to control the sound of the hearing aids. With some of the hearing aids, the app will allow your audiologist to have virtual appointments with you. The audiologist is able to call your smartphone and connect with the hearing aid app to make adjustments to your hearing aids. This reduces your need to leave the house for hearing aid sound modifications! There are other technologies that will pair with the hearing aids to help you understand speech in a group of people or to understand the TV more readily. Just ask and you will be surprised what is available today. QCBN
By Karon Lynn, Au.D.
Trinity Hearing Center is located at 1330 N. Rim Dr., Suite B in Flagstaff. For more information, visit TrinityHearing.net.
Karon Lynn, Au.D., is a doctor of audiology with 30 years of experience working with hearing impaired individuals. Dr. Lynn may be reached at 928-522-0500 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.