“Prêt-à-Porter” (“ready-to-wear” in French) is not a concept you should associate with hearing aids—and with good reason. Hearing aids are an incredibly personal, individual thing. From getting your hearing tested to exploring all of your options to getting professionally fitted for hearing aids and then taking them home to get used to them…it’s quite a deal. But your hearing care professional can guide you all along the way. This short guide can help you know what to expect during the process.
Prepare for your first appointment
You can’t study for your hearing test appointment to make the results better. You either have some level of hearing loss, or you don’t. Your hearing care professional will test your years, evaluate your situation and then discuss hearing aid options with you if necessary. The most important thing you can do before you go to this appointment is prepare a list of questions to ask when you get there:
- Do I have hearing loss, and how bad is it (mild, moderate, severe, or profound)?
- Would hearing aids be helpful in my case? Do I need them in both ears?
- Which hearing aids would be best for me? How can I balance features with expenses?
- What are your financing options? (Private insurance, credit arrangements, state programs, etc.)
While at your hearing test 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 you choose your new hearing aids and get them programmed by your hearing care professional, your next step is adjusting to life with them at home. You need to remember following two important things:
First, you won’t fall in love with your hearing aids when you put them in the first time, or even the second. You’ll suddenly hear sounds you haven’t heard in years, and the overall sound may feel overwhelming initially. This is perfectly normal and, after a few weeks, it will get much better as your ears and brain adjust to the new soundscape.
Just start 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.
Once you’ve muscled through this initial adjustment period, you’ll really 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!