5 Steps to hearing aids
Step 1: Make a time to see us
The first and hardest biggest step for many is the first one, making an appointment for a hearing test. Research has shown it takes people 7 to 10 years to do something about their hearing loss. Of course while you are getting used to the idea that you may have some hearing loss, you are missing conversations and connections with people every day. Gradually the people around you adapt to your hearing loss (often by speaking louder or choosing not to share incidental comments) and you start to make different decisions on how you will use your time (like avoiding social situations). Hearing loss impacts the way you live your life. There is also a lot of new research showing other long term effects of hearing loss when it is left untreated.
Of course the first easy step is to have a hearing test, this will give you a clearer idea about your type and degree of hearing loss and why you can hear some sounds as well as everyone else but you can’t always understand what people are saying, especially if it is noisy.
The next question is “Do you need hearing aids?”. Your audiologist will let you know if your hearing is in the range where hearing aids will help and your family may also have an opinion on you getting help with your hearing. However, it is important that once you decide to get hearing aids that you are making this step for yourself. It is true that other people in your life are probably effect by your hearing loss, however it is better for everyone if getting hearing aids is your choice.
Diagram showing the process and approximate time periods for the life cycle of a pair of hearing aids
Step 2: Hearing Assessment & Discussion
A full hearing test will clarify your hearing levels and help identify possible causes of your hearing loss. Hearing loss can be:
- conductive – where sound is blocked from reaching the cochlear (outer or middle ear)
- sensori-neural – where the cochlear is not able to detect all the sounds
- an auditory processing disorder (APD) – where the brain cannot process the sound detected by your ears detects.
Your Audiologist will discuss your test results. If there is hearing loss, we will let you know why it is effecting your ability to understand people speaking, even though you can hear some sounds easily. At this point we will refer you on to any other professionals, for further assessment or management, if needed.
If you are interested, we will tell you a bit about hearing aids and possible options that might suit you. You can even have a listen through some hearing aids.
Once you have decided to learn more about hearing aids, we will go through your needs assessment process. We will ask you questions about your lifestyle and hearing challenges. From here we can decide on the hearing aid features and level of technology that suits you best. At this point we create a list of situations where you would like to hear and communicate better. When choosing hearing aids for you we take into account your:
- Hearing loss and other physical factors
- Lifestyle and your hearing needs
- Preferences i.e. what the hearing aid will look like or specific functionality
- Funding and budget – you may be eligible for funding from a government agency
Hearing aids are fitted on a 60 day trial
Once you have decided to trial hearing aids, the process takes 4 – 6 weeks. The 60 day trial system allows you to be sure you are hearing well with your new hearing aids and they are meeting your hearing needs. Depending on your type and degree of hearing loss it takes a few days to a few weeks to adjust to the new sound, so 60 days is plenty of time for you to get used to your new hearing aids.
Hearing aids are always paid for in full before taking them home. If you decide that hearing aids are not for you, you can hand them back with in the 60 day time frame. If you do, you will be refunded the cost of the aids minus the fitting fee (to cover some of the time spent with you). We also have the option of changing to other hearing aids at this time if needed.
Hearing Aid Fitting Appointment
Our main goal at the fitting is to get you comfortable with the sound and management of your new hearing aids. We will:
- Calculate the sound required and your program hearing aids specifically for your hearing loss.
- Do real ear measures – use a small soft microphone to measure the sound in your ear canal. This verifies that the hearing aids are doing what we expect of them.
- Discuss the management of hearing aids, cleaning, using the phone
- Talk to you about adjusting to sound and wearing the hearing aids as much as you can.
- Book the follow up appointment – usually in about in 1 or 2 weeks time.
Follow up appointments
Follow up appointments allow us to check how you are going with the hearing aids and make adjustments, as required. Usually people have got used to the initial settings of the hearing aids and are ready for a clearer sound. The number of follow up appointments required will vary for different clients.
Finalising means that you are happy with your hearing aids and have decided you want to keep them. We will not schedule another appointment at this time but you are welcome to contact us again if you have further questions or need adjustments to your hearing aids. All appointments until your 6 month check are included.
6 Month Check
We will call you up in six months for a check up. This appointment and any appointments up until this time are included in the initial fitting fees. We will check how you are going with your hearing aids and can make adjustments or modification if needed.
You will be called up each year for your annual review, which will include a hearing assessment and adjustment of your hearing aids. We will also check over your hearing aids over and make sure they are working as they should.
It is worth coming along to these appointments each year as often hearing gradually continues to change. When we refit your hearing aids to your up to date hearing test your hearing aids will sound clear and crisp again. You will notice the clarity difference especially in difficult listening environments like in groups or noise.
Maree contacted me recently and I went in for another check where she gave my hearing aids a tune-up to maintain their efficiency. With my slowly deteriorating hearing, I hadn’t noticed I wasn’t hearing as clearly as before. I was surprised at how much more I could hear once my hearing aids were adjusted.
Excellent service indeed!
Max Ross- Auckland CBD
Replacing your hearing aids
Traditionally hearing aids lasted about 4-5 years as they would be affected by wax, moisture, dust and dirt. Now most hearing aids are covered by high tech coatings that make them much more resistant to moisture, some hearing aids are even guaranteed to be water proof and you are able to swim in them.
Hearing aid life time – It is not possible to tell how long these current aids will last but with good care possibly 6-8 years. Obviously you will need regular hearing assessments and adjustments over that time to keep them working the best for you.
Insurance – It is important that you have your hearing are listed on your insurance policy just in case they do fall into water or get crushed or lost.
Hopefully you are feeling clearer about the hearing aid fitting process now. As an Auckland Hearing client you will become part of our Auckland Hearing community. As long as you are interested we will keep you up to date about the hearing world from hearing care to the latest hearing aids.
Please feel free to add any questions or comments in the section below. Or browse among the other articles about hearing loss and hearing aids.