In my experience, most people like milk with their tea. Some people enjoy sugar in their coffee. Sometimes I prefer herbal tea. Have you thought about how you would like your hearing aids?
Like computers, tablets and phones, hearing aid technology is improving quickly. Hearing aids have more and more functions and features which fit into tiny packages that sit in or behind your ear. Current hearing aids do more than compensate for hearing loss with amplification. They are small computers that measure your sound environment then modify the way they amplify to maximize your hearing clarity.
When getting hearing aids we need to consider the technology level and functionality that will best compensate for your hearing loss; as well as the other features and additional technology you might find useful to make life easier.
Getting the right hearing aids for you
Good core hearing aid functionality is key to success. Choosing the correct level of amplification, fitting to your ear and technology level for your hearing needs must be guided carefully by your Audiologist. Follow this link for more details about how we go about assessing your listening needs.
Once we have decided on the right hearing aid technology for you, we can consider the added features that are available. These can help with ease of use, connectivity and better hearing in specific listening environments. These features are available at most technology levels. Once we have decided on the right hearing aids for you we can decide if you would like any additional technology to go along with them.
How would you like your hearing aids?
Hearing aid style and cosmetics
Finding the most discrete hearing aids is a priority for many new hearing aid users. Cosmetics, of course, has to be balanced with comfort, reliability and and sound quality.
Receiver in the canal (RIC)
The most commonly fitted style of hearing aids in recent times is the Receiver In the Canal (RIC), also known as the Receiver In The Ear (RITE) / (RIE). These hearing aids have a relatively small hearing aid that sits behind the ear, the receiver (loud speaker) sits in the ear.
An advantage of these hearing aids is that the receiver can be changed to a more powerful one if there is a change in hearing or replaced if they breakdown (at a significantly lower repair cost). These can be fitted with universal fit domes or custom moulds. There are many behind the ear styles available with various tubing options.
In the canal hearing aids (IICs, CICs and ITEs)
Some people prefer not the have anything sitting behind their ear. There are various size options depending on client priorities including Invisible in the Canal (IIC) hearing aids, Completely in the Canal (CICs) and In the Ear (ITE) hearing aids. Most brands have these hearing aid styles available. They have historically come with trade offs in comfort and reliability (as you may have an electronic device deep inside your ear); however these issues improved dramatically over the past few years. There are many in the ear styles available.
Control your hearing aids with an app
In an ideal world hearing aids measure the sound environment, highlight the sound you want to hear and bring it to you with increased clarity. In most cases hearing aids do this well. However, sometimes you may want to adjust the hearing aid sound for the environment you are in. You may want to hear the person who is speaking from behind you, like in a car; you may want to appreciate the nuances of music or you may want to hear well in a particularly reverberant (echoy) room.
In these cases you may want to change the way the hearing aids are working; adjust the volume, or focus on sound for a particular direction. This is where a remote control app may come in handy. Apps usually give you the option to change your hearing aid volume, program setting and in some cases pitch and adjust how the hearing aids respond in noise.
Rechargeable batteries in hearing aids have been available for a number of years. Within the last year we have seen a surge of new rechargeable hearing aids from more manufacturers with improved battery life. The 3 main reasons to choose rechargeable hearing aids:
- Simplicity – Just pick up your hearing aids and put them on in the morning and at night put them back in the charger. No need to open battery doors to turn them off or having batteries run out unexpectedly.
- The environment – many people are aware of the waste they create when they dispose of used hearing aid batteries every week or two. We do not have a hearing aid battery recycling system in New Zealand, so they go into landfill.
- Less cost and hassle– although the battery charger costs a little more at the beginning there is an overall cost saving when choosing rechargeable hearing aids. There is also the added convenience of not having to think about buying batteries.
Connect directly to your phone
For those of us who rely on phone conversation, having our phone connect directly into our hearing aids makes the voices so much clearer and easier to hear. Direct to iPhone hearing aids a have been around for a few years and now available from many of the manufacturers. Users of direct to iPhone hearing aids can listen directly to phone calls as well as other audio produced by an iPhone or iPad.
Another built in advantage of the direct to iPhone technology is that your phone can be used as a remote microphone. Just put your iPhone at the other end of the table, or give it to the person with the quiet voice and the sound that reaches the iPhone microphone will be sent directly to your hearing aids.
Recently a direct to any phone hearing aid was launched by Phonak. This hearing allows direct connection to any phone with bluetooth 4.2 which includes android (and most older models). If you have an older phone, find out if your phone will work here with the Audéo B-Direct phone compatibility tool.
Use your phone hands free
These are the first hearing aids to allow true hands free talking. The phone can be sitting up to 5 metres away. You will hear it ring in your hearing aids and can answer it by pressing the button on the hearing aid. When you speak your voice is picked up by the hearing aids and sent back to phone. No need to pick up your phone at all, they are truly hands free.
Connect directly to media – Tv, computer, sound systems
Being able to connect your hearing aids directly to your TV, sound system or tablet means you will hear the sound a lot clearer the first time. Following the dialogue in movies and TV is so much easier. In most cases (other than direct to iPhone hearing aids) we need to add an intermediate device that sends the signal from your preferred audio device to your hearing aids.
Remote microphone technology
One of the biggest challenges for people with significant hearing loss, is hearing across distance. Speech understanding can be difficult over more than a few meters, even the best hearing aid technology. Follow this link and scroll down for a video demonstration of how remote microphone technology might help you.
There are many reasons that getting into the clinic to see your audiologist can be a challenge. Maybe you live a long way from the clinic, are not able to get to appointments during work hours or are home bound, for medical or transport reasons. If this describes you then we have a solution – Telecare audiology is now a reality.
Tele-audiology means that some of the hearing aid fitting process can be done from the comfort of your home or office. Once we have done a thorough hearing assessment and have fitted the hearing aids in the clinic we can do further follow ups from a distance. All you need is a smart phone and your hearing aids can be adjusted over the internet. Making the process of getting hearing aids easier than before.
So – how would you like your hearing aids?
Significant research and development in hearing aid technology means new hearing aids are being launched almost continually. As you can see there are many options to be considered when choosing hearing aids. It is important to consider how you would like your hearing aids to work for you. Our needs assessment will help steer you in the right direction to get the hearing aids that suit your lifestyle and listening needs best. Finding out about your preferences is an important part of choosing the right hearing aids for you.
At Auckland Hearing we keep up to date with new developments from all the manufacturers product lines. This is so we can choose the most up to date hearing aids that are best suited to your needs.