“Prêt-à-Porter” or “ready-to-wear” is an adjective that simply does not apply to hearing aids. If you’re getting new hearing aids, you’ll need to go through a comprehensive testing, customization and adjustment process that is as individual as you are. Work with a trusted hearing care professional through the following process for best results.
Before your first appointment
Your first appointment will include an extensive hearing test where your hearing care professional examines, then evaluates your hearing ability. After that, you’ll need to discuss with him or her whether or not hearing aids may be beneficial to you at this time in your life. Before you go to this appointment, compile a good list of questions to ask your hearing care professional so you can get the information you need to make informed decisions.
These are some basic questions to start with; add more of your own:
- Do I have some extent of hearing loss (mild, moderate, severe, or profound)?
- Would hearing aids help me? Do I need them in both ears?
- Which hearing aid is best for my needs? How can I balance features with cost?
- What are my financing options for hearing aids? (Private insurance, credit arrangements, state programs, etc.)
During your appointment
If you test negative for hearing loss, you probably don’t need hearing aids at this time; besides that, however, you’ll have this test as a baseline with which to compare any future hearing tests.
If the results indicate hearing loss, however, you might well benefit from hearing aids. Your hearing care professional should review all of the possible options with you before you make any decisions. Make sure you cover these considerations:
- Programmability – most hearing aids are digital and programmable so that they can be programmed to address the specific needs of your hearing loss. Do not skip this step; if someone tries to sell you a hearing instrument right out of the box without any adjustments to fit you, it most likely won’t work the way you need it to.
- Style – There are many different styles and models of hearing aids today, from models that sit behind the ear to models that fit entirely inside the ear canal. You’ll want to balance price, ease-of-use, functionality, and aesthetics in making your decision.
- Wireless connectivity – several hearing aid models connect wirelessly to compatible smartphones. With these features, you can discreetly adjust volume and settings, send phone calls directly to your hearing aids, and even stream music all without any wires or the need for a separate hearing aid remote control.
- Advanced features – some hearing aids come equipped with additional advanced features, like directional microphones to enhance speech, background noise reduction, environmental settings, and telecoils for clearer phone calls. Discuss and consider what features you need and what you might be able to forgo to stay within your budget.
This may all seem confusing, but your hearing care professional is trained to help guide you through the decision-making process. Of course, if someone tries to rush or steer you to a decision without addressing your questions, that should be a red flag.
Going home with new hearing aids
After selecting your new hearing aids and having them programmed by your hearing care professional, you can take them home. But your journey is just beginning, so don’t forget the following two important things:
First, you won’t fall in love with your hearing aids as soon as you put them in for the first time. You’ll likely be hearing sounds you haven’t heard in a while, and the overall sound will just seem “off.” This is perfectly normal and, after a few weeks, will subside.
We recommend starting small at home. Try watching a movie and paying particular attention to the dialogue, engage in one-on-one conversations in a quiet room, and try listening to music and picking out or following certain instruments.
Although it will probably be uncomfortable at first, try to wear your hearing aids for as much of the day as possible, putting them in when you wake up and taking them out before bed. This will speed up the adjustment process, and after a few weeks, you’ll be glad you put in the effort.
Also remember that your hearing aids can be adjusted, so if you continue to have difficulty hearing or adapting to the new sound, schedule a follow-up visit with your hearing care professional to fine-tune the settings.
Second, to ensure continued performance, you’ll need to properly maintain and care for your new hearing aids. This means daily cleaning, proper storage, and managing your battery supply.
Make sure you start off on the right foot with your new hearing aids before you even leave the office: collect tools like storage cases, sanitizers, cleaning kits and batteries and get instructions and tips for proper care from your hearing care professional.
After a short period of adjustment, you’ll be prepared to enjoy the all the benefits of better hearing. If you have any other questions about hearing aids, or the process of acquiring them, give us a call!