With millions of Americans experiencing some degree of hearing loss, the hearing aid industry has introduced a broad menu of hearing loss solutions – digital hearing aids that offer convenience, control, and at a reasonable cost.
So what's right for you? Well, let's look at the options.
Newest Hearing Aids: Fully Automatic or Manual? It's Your Choice
Today's digital hearing aids are small computers capable of delivering quality sound, all-day wearing comfort and automated features galore. If you want automation in your hearing aid purchase, expect to pay more for that convenience.
Automated Hearing Aids
The ability to put your hearing aids in the morning and forget about them is priceless for many. Some consumers want convenience, automation – the no fuss option when it comes to their hearing aids. What does the newest hearing aids technology deliver?
- Automated reading and adjustment to current listening conditions as you move through each day
- Sound settings for large open spaces or small listening locations like the kitchen table. Today's high-tech hearing aids "read" the listening environment and adjust automatically so you don't have to think about it.
- Automatic feedback suppression so you can talk on the telephone without that wailing screech called feedback. You're always connected.
- Directional microphones that hone in on the sounds you want to hear while decreasing the volume of background sounds, like a large crowd at your favorite restaurant or the speaker at the seminar "way up there."
- Automated notifications: low battery, settings change or "Hey, you have an appointment with your audiologist on Tuesday." That's right; upper-end hearing aids actually talk to you and prompt you, remind you and warn you.
- Wireless connectivity enables you to turn your hearing aids into wireless receivers that get signals from any wireless device like a cell phone, wireless PDA, MP3 player, smoke alarms or even the TV, enabling you to stay connected no matter where you are or what you're doing.
- Smart hearing aids that "learn" your personal listening preferences over time, enabling you to spend less time adjusting and more time enjoying the world around you. Today's automated hearing aids simplify the listening experience – something that many hearing aid wearers look for. Pure convenience.
One example of a fully automated hearing aid is the Oticon Agil. With Spatial Sound technology the Oticon Agil is so sophisticated that it reads your environment and automatically adjusts the settings of the hearing aids for you based on input from both the right and left ear. Wireless signals snet between the two ears ensures the two hearing aids are working together to deliver accurate amplification based on your environment.
Now, each time you add a feature you are adding to the level of technology which does influence the price of the hearing aid and price is often a consideration, especially for first-time hearing aid buyers. Those who've enjoyed the benefits of hearing technology are more inclined to spend a little extra for a lot of extra convenience since they appreciate the benefits of the higher end technology.
Cost should not be your number one consideration when making a hearing aid purchase. Talk to your audiologist or hearing aid specialist about lifestyle, living and working conditions, home life and things like hobbies and recreational activities. Together, you and your hearing aid professional will find the right hearing aid for you.
Manual Hearing Aids
We all know folks who still drive standard shift cars and maybe we ARE one of those people. These drivers want more control over the activities of their cars – to be able to downshift to accelerate up a hill, for example.
Manual hearing aids are less expensive but they do require more attention from the wearer throughout the day. You're making adjustments throughout the day. Now that doesn't mean you make a big deal about upping the volume or shifting to a different pre-determined setting for a particular listening environment.
In most cases, a simple press of a small button shifts from outdoor to indoor listening settings, or shifts "gears" to provide a little more volume with the discrete roll of a scroll wheel. You decide on which setting is most comfortable for you when you choose a manual hearing aid that puts you in charge and can save on the cost of your hearing aids.
Talk to a Hearing Specialist
If you've been enjoying the benefits of hearing aids, discuss what's new in hearing aid technology. In the hearing aid industry, advancements are moving at the speed of digital and even hearing aids that are five years old are dated technologically.
If this is your first trip to a hearing aid specialist, be a sharp consumer and ask questions. For example, there are lots of sophisticated hearing aids that offer some automated features with manual override options. There are hearing aids that employ some automated features and let you handle the routine stuff – and it does become routine quickly.
Finally, before you walk out of the hearing aid store learn how to operate your hearing aids. Which button does what? How do you swap out batteries? Take a lesson from a patient hearing professional and learn how to get the most from the hearing aid that's just right for you.
Not sure where to start? Visit a hearing aid professional near you today!