Tosha R. Hodgson
Special to The Morning Star
As powerful and sophisticated as hearing aids are these days, they do have a wear life. If you currently wear hearing aids, even if you take the utmost care of them, the continuous daily exposure to moisture, body heat, and earwax can gradually damage hearing aids over time. Below are five reasons why consulting with an independent audiologist can help you determine if your hearing aids need servicing or if they should be replaced.
1. Your hearing profile has changed.
When was the last time you had a thorough hearing assessment? Hearing sensitivity can change over time. It is important to have your hearing levels checked regularly. If you currently have hearing aids, having regular hearing tests at least once every one to two years is especially important. Hearing aids have no idea if your hearing levels have changed – they will just do what they were previously set to do! If you find you are asking people to repeat themselves more often, or if voices sound mumbled and unclear, and your hearing aids are mechanically functioning properly, then it is time for another hearing assessment!
Hearing aids are fit to specific prescription criteria. Hearing changes can be gradual and unnoticeable. It might be that your hearing aids simply require a stronger speaker or a different type of earpiece to maximize your hearing. Sometimes hearing changes, and the age of your current hearing aids, are enough to consider new hearing aids to better fit the needs of your auditory system and lifestyle.
2. Firmware updates.
Did you know that most hearing aids can be updated internally to fix small bugs in the circuitry and improve performance? Similar to computers, hearing aid firmware can be updated in your hearing care professional’s office. In the past, hearing aids had to be returned to the manufacturer to perform such updates. These updates generally fix minor issues such as feedback control and wireless connectivity problems. If your hearing aids have not been checked within the past two years or more, it might be a good idea to visit your hearing clinic and check to see if any updates are available.
3. Your lifestyle has changed.
Have you moved into a new residence? Have you joined a class or group? Are you around different voices or in new environments? Did you get season’s tickets to live theatre for the first time? When your surroundings change, your acoustic environments change. When the people around you are new to you, their voices can be challenging to hear and understand. What you needed from your hearing aids in the past might not match what you need from your hearing aids now. It is important to know the capabilities – and limitations – of your hearing aids and to learn if they can be modified to better suit your listening needs and lifestyle now.
For example, now that Vernon has many public Hearing Loop Systems installed, I have had numerous hearing aid wearers book appointments with me to have their hearing aids checked to determine if they are equipped with telecoils. Some wearers who did not have telecoils opted to invest in new hearing aids to have this feature. For other wearers, I could advise them they had telecoils already but they had not been activated. Activation is a process that usually takes less than 10 minutes and the result can open a whole world of better hearing in public venues like the library, seniors’ centres, places of worship, and the Performing Arts Centre.
4. Your hearing aids are more than five years old.
Did you know most hearing aid manufacturers generally cannot, or will not, repair hearing aids that are over five to seven years old? The technology in hearing aids changes quickly. Over time, parts used to repair older hearing aids become obsolete and are no longer made. Generally, most hearing aid manufacturers will not repair hearing aids that are more than seven years old, and they may not warranty repair work on aids over five years old, depending on the parts and labour required.
5. You want improved technology.
Do you like to keep up with the latest advancements in technology? Hearing aid technology has seen some remarkable changes over the past two decades – from the first digital hearing aid in 1996 to hearing aids today that wirelessly exchange information with each other, cell phones, wireless accessories, and the internet. The technology changes quickly! Rechargeable hearing aid battery options are now available from every major hearing aid manufacturer. Speech enhancement and noise reduction features continue to improve. Processing power and speed are rising. Battery life has generally held steady despite all the new advancements demanding more power to work. Designs and styles are sleeker and slimmer. Premium quality materials – like white gold plated battery doors for rechargeable systems and titanium custom earpieces – are increasingly being integrated into hearing aid design to improve performance and wearer comfort. Spring and fall are generally the best times to check out what is new!
Make this May your Better Speech and Hearing Month!
Rockwell Audiology Inc. has promotional pricing available throughout the month on all hearing aids, hearing loop systems, sleep headphones, and custom hearing protection. Call 250-545-2226 or email email@example.com to learn more.