If you've just decided to get hearing aids, congratulations! It's a big and important step in your healthy hearing journey. But after making the decision to be fitted with hearing aids, many people are stumped about where to begin and how to find the best hearing aids for them. Here are some tips, information and questions to ask to ensure you find the hearing aids right for your lifestyle:
Before choosing a hearing aid
Before your fitting with an audiologist for your new devices, it's important that you know or understand:
- Your audiogram results and what they mean for your hearing.
- What type of hearing loss you have.
- Why you can hear but the words sound distorted.
- What a hearing aid can and cannot do for you.
- How to clean your hearing aids.
- How and how often to replace your hearing aid batteries.
- When to bring your hearing aid in for a repair.
- That when first fitted with hearing aids, you'll need to visit the audiologist for follow-up adjustments to make sure the devices are right for you.
- That hearing aids on the market today have an immense variety of features and you can find a pair that fits your lifestyle.
Assessing your needs
Another thing to do before choosing your hearing aids is to assess your hearing loss needs. The type of device that works for you will depend on many things, including:
- Ear anatomy: Of course, you can't assess your own ear anatomy, but your hearing health care professional will be able to do this to help you decide what style of fit is best for you. For example, while behind-the-ear hearing aids work for virtually anyone who has a hearing loss, in-the-ear and in-the-canal aids do not work for people whose ear canals are too small. Your audiologist can let you know.
- Features: Hearing aids offer a varying range of technologies and capabilities. It's important to consider what features may be important to you and others you might never utilize.
- Appearance: People who are self-conscious about hearing aids might look for colors and styles that are more discreet than others. Completely-in-the-canal aids are virtually invisible, so some people prefer these. However, CIC devices might not have as much power as behind-the-ear aids.
- Physical limitations: BTE hearing aids are the easiest to handle because they are larger than others. If you have arthritis or limited dexterity in your fingers, a BTE aid might be better than an ITE or CIC device because it will be easier to insert batteries and clean the devices.
- Degree of hearing loss: Some devices are better than others for severe to profound hearing loss, and your audiologist can help you make this choice.
Lifestyle and hearing aids
Of course, another major factor in choosing the right hearing aid for you is assessing your lifestyle and which style and technological features are best for your frequent listening environments.
Active lifestyle/demanding listening environments
If you spend much of your time in demanding listening environments, there are hearing aid options out there for you. Examples of an active lifestyle include:
- Traveling frequently
- Attending large social functions
- Dining out often
- Going to concerts or live shows
- Giving presentations at meetings
- Frequently driving
Some hearing aids are compatible with smart phones and have other wireless technology. You can find hearing aids that are water-resistant, and others that utilize the latest technology to enhance the clarity of speech to its fullest extent.
Casual lifestyle/moderate listening environments
For a casual lifestyle, you probably spend the majority of your time in moderate listening environments doing things like:
- Attending religious gatherings
- Golfing, walking or biking with a friend
- Attending meetings
- Having lunch with a small group of friends in a quiet locale
- Driving, but infrequently
- Watching TV occasionally
People who spend the majority of their time in moderate listening environments might like to have certain advanced features, such as reduction of wind noise, but often don't find use for many of the cutting-edge technological offerings, such as wireless connectivity.
Quiet lifestyle/quiet listening environments
If you live a more quiet lifestyle, you might want hearing aids that offer just the basics. Examples of quiet listening environments include:
- Doing activities at home.
- Watching TV.
- Playing cards with friends.
- Reading a book or the news.
- Having casual conversations.
- Visiting friends in their homes.
No matter your type of hearing loss and lifestyle, an audiologist can help you find the perfect hearing aids for your budget, preference and needs. Before your hearing aid fitting, check with the audiologist to ensure that there is a trial period for the devices. That way, you can try them out at no cost, and if they aren't sufficient for your listening needs, the audiologist can work with you to find a better fit!