The Truth About Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids
Honest Answers to Important QuestionsBy Vallery Kesterson, BA, BC-HIS, Board Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist
In 28 years of evaluating hearing, fitting and dispensing hearing aids in the Willamette Valley, I have experienced the joy of knowing so many wonderful people, my patients, who have been invaluable in teaching me about the difficulty of living with hearing loss and the process of trying to overcome it. I’ve also experienced a hearing instrument technology “boom” over those 28 years, and can honestly say that so many of my patients are hearing significantly better with today’s hearing aids than I ever thought possible.
A primary goal in my work with my patients is to match realistic expectations of our hearing aid technology to the hearing loss and communication needs of each individual. This goal is essential to the success of hearing aid use.
My hope in this article is to bring to the forefront the truth of the hearing aid experience in today’s technology market, as I’ve experienced it in my education, training and through the experiences of my patients. I hope that these “Questions and Answers” will further your understanding and assist you in succeeding with your own hearing healthcare experience:
“If I am fit with the same hearing aids (technology) as my friend, will I hear as well as she seems to?”
“I’m confused by the different hearing aid technology options available. What really are the differences and do the more expensive choices really work better, or can I get by with the lower cost options?”
“My parents struggled so much with their hearing aids. How much better are they generally performing today, and can I expect to have an easier time adjusting to the newer hearing aids?”
The digital processing of sound that most all hearing aids now provide allows even new users of hearing aids a more comfortable experience throughout the adjustment period. All hearing aids purchased in Oregon come with a trial/refund period, insuring satisfaction or the option to return the instruments. Most hearing professionals “bundle “ a service plan into the purchase price, which should include programming and maintenance support for either the life of the hearing aids or at least to the end of the warranty period. It is so important to work closely with your hearing professional and expect strong support with programming and counseling throughout the adjustment period and beyond.
“My kids tell me that I need to consider hearing aids, but I don’t think I have a hearing problem. The problem is that they mumble and just need to speak more clearly. Can’t I just put off getting hearing aids until I notice more of a hearing problem?”
Whose responsibility is it to make “successful communication” happen? The answer is “both” people in the conversation. The “listener” is responsible for seeking help with hearing if needed. The “speaker” has a significant responsibility to follow good communication rules such as “looking at the person, getting their attention before speaking, and speaking a bit slower and more distinctly if needed.”